Food-Borne Illnesses

The Environmental Health Division enforces food protection by investigating food-borne illnesses and other complaints after a problem has occurred. To report a food-borne illness, please see our "Make a Complaint" page. To file a complaint, you may either call the department at 309-679-6161 or email us. This is the next step in protection after prevention.

About Food-Borne Illnesses

Food-borne illness is an illness carried or transmitted to people by food. Food-borne illness may present itself as flu-like symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or fever; so many people may not recognize the illness is caused by bacteria or other pathogens in food.

How Foods Become Unsafe

  • Poor personal hygiene (due to improper hand washing, or touching food when ill).
  • Time/Temperature abuse: holding food in the temperature danger zone — between 41°F and 135°F — for too long, allowing microorganisms to grow.
  • Cross-contamination (for example: raw food such as chicken coming into contact with ready to eat foods, such as lettuce).

Substances That Cause Food-Borne Illness

The following other substances besides bacteria can cause food-borne illness:

  • Chemical contaminants
  • Cleaning products
  • Foreign objects
  • Fungi
  • Non-food grade metals
  • Other biological contaminants
  • Parasites
  • Pesticides
  • Physical contaminants
  • Seafood, plant, and mushroom toxins
  • Viruses