Foodborne Illness (Food Poisoning) Investigations

The Environmental Health and Safety Office (EH&S) responds to all reports of suspected foodborne illnesses implicating food sold or served on campus property. Our goals for this program are as follows:

  • Identify the foods (if applicable) responsible for the illness.
  • Collect accurate and complete information from the person(s) involved.
  • Collect samples of the suspected food (when possible and appropriate).
  • Identify possible contributing factors.
  • Correct the improper food handling practices that may have contributed to the illness.

Important Facts about Foodborne Illnesses (Food Poisoning)

  • Although signs and symptoms for illnesses vary, the most common symptoms are vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
  • Most cases of food borne illness last between 24-48 hours.
  • Symptoms typically appear between 2 to 36 hours after eating the problem food. This means the problem food often is not the last thing you ate.
  • Most cases of food borne illness are single cases and not associated with large outbreaks.

Reporting a Possible Foodborne Illness (Food Poisoning)

In order to help EH&S conduct a prompt and thorough investigation, please be ready with the following information when you call EH&S to report a possible food borne illness (food poisoning):

  • Step 1: Contact your medical service provider as soon as possible. The physician’s diagnosis is a key element in assisting our office in determining whether you became ill from eating food at the facility or from the vending machine on campus.
  • Step 2: After seeing your physician, contact EH&S immediately at (949)-824-4170. Please be ready to provide the following information before placing the call; this information is vital for EH&S to properly follow-up on your request.

    •  WHO: Your name, address and telephone number. Also, the names and telephone numbers of other people if they also became ill. This information is kept confidential but it is important for EH&S to have the ability to contact you for additional information related to the investigation.

    •  WHERE : The name of the campus food facility.

    •  SUSPECTED FOOD: Describe all food eaten during the meal suspected of causing the illness.Additionally, it is important to note the date and time the food was eaten as well as the date and time of the first symptoms.

    •  SYMPTOMS : List all symptoms experienced during the illness. This information will help EH&S ininvestigating the food facility.

    •  FOOD HISTORY : Be prepared to answer questions regarding all food eaten and beverages consumed in the three days prior to the first sign of illness. Many food borne illness organisms can have incubation periods of three days or longer. The food history is necessary to help the Health Inspector identify the most likely suspected food item.

For more detailed information on foodborne illnesses and/or to report a suspected food borne illness, please call (949)-824-4170.

Document Initiator: Jim Pack

Rev.: 12/09