Foodborne Illness

The Food Safety Program investigates all complaints of illness. Investigations help us discover and correct problems in the food production and distribution system and prevent future illness. Consumers can help by reporting illnesses they suspect might be foodborne.

There are hundreds of microorganisms and numerous chemicals that can cause illness through food or water. Any illness that is caused by eating contaminated food or water is considered a foodborne illness.
Drawing of salmonella bacteria
The onset of illness can be almost immediate or up to 70 days, depending on the cause. Some common symptoms are:
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Jaundice (yellow skin color)
  • Sore throat with fever
  • Vomiting
Program Services
The Food Safety Program investigates cases of foodborne illness by:
  • Collecting and evaluating food histories from people
  • Collecting samples for testing
  • Conducting inspections of licensed food facilities
Information for Restaurants
Food service workers, managers and owners should consider all reports of possible foodborne illness legitimate and notify Cape May County Department of Health immediately.

Information for Consumers
Cape May County Department of Health takes all citizen complaints regarding food borne illness and food safety seriously. If you believe that you have become ill from something you ate we would like to know. Please call 609-465-1200 and report it to Cape May County Department of Health.

Using Program Services
This program is for anyone who is a resident or visitor of Cape May County who believes they might have an illness that was transmitted through food should call and report. A person does not have to be diagnosed by a physician to report an illness if they suspect the cause might be food or water.

Any person who has symptoms or a positive lab report that might be a foodborne illness should contact the Cape May County Department of Health Communicable Disease Division at 609-465-1200. Cape May County Department of Health staff will begin an investigation at that time. Single cases of illness, family groups, and groups of co-workers will need to provide a history of the foods they have eaten in the three days prior to becoming ill. If possible a person should take their body temperature before calling.

Medical Attention
A person should seek medical attention if symptoms include:
  • Bloody stool
  • Mucous in their stool
  • Severe dehydration
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea combined with a fever that lasts more than 2 days