family grilling We are all consumers and handlers of food. According to the Missouri Food Code definition a consumer is a person who takes possession of food for their own use and does not offer the food for resale. While in past eras the American public ate most of its meals at home now many people eat at least one meal a day at a retail food establishment, like a restaurant. With this shift in eating habits the challenges of food safety have shifted as well. The food supply in the United States is among the safest in the world according to the Food and Drug Administration. However, when certain foods are contaminated with biological, chemical, or physical hazards, they can cause foodborne illness, often called “food poisoning.”

The Federal government estimates that there are approximately 48 million cases of foodborne illness annually - the equivalent of sickening 1 in 6 Americans each year. And each year these illnesses result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Good food safety practices at home and in commercial facilities can help to reduce these numbers.

Foodborne illnesses can be serious, long-lasting, or even fatal. Therefore, it is important for you to know and practice safe food handling behaviors to help reduce your risk of getting sick from contaminated food. The information provided on this page is designed to inform and guide you, the consumer, on ways to protect yourself and your family from a potential food-borne illness. We at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services hope you find this information informative and useful. You may print and copy any of these documents for your use free of charge. Clicking on the links below will take you to additional information on food safety for you, your family, and your community.