Often, people do not know whom to turn to when they think they are experiencing a foodborne illness or have food safety concerns. Reporting both issues is vital for improving safety across the entire food system.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that foodborne illnesses are at least 10 times greater than what is reported because most go unreported, and people often do not go to a doctor unless symptoms are severe. This limits data that could help regulators trace illnesses to the culprit and remove the offending item from the food supply chain.

If you suspect you have a foodborne illness, immediately seek medical care. In some cases, a doctor may take a fecal specimen and send it to a laboratory to try to identify the organism causing the infection. If a reportable microorganism is identified, it will be disclosed to the local health department which will investigate. Unless the illness is severe, the doctor may only provide treatment for symptoms and not collect a specimen.