Each year, 1 in 6 Americans become sick from contaminated foods or beverages, often from food that is prepared in an unsafe manner. Foodborne illness (sometimes called food poisoning) is commonly caused by disease-causing microbes that contaminate foods. Poisonous chemicals or other harmful substances can also cause foodborne illness if they are present in food.
Whether dining out or buying food to go, you should expect your food to be prepared safely. The Food Safety Program helps protect you from food borne illness by testing food workers on proper food handling methods and inspecting all Clark County food establishments.
Reporting a foodborne illness
To report a suspected foodborne illness or file a complaint about unsafe food handling practices at a restaurant, call (360) 397-8083 or use our online form.
Food safety at home
By observing the following food safety strategies, you can reduce your risk of foodborne illness.
Clean: Wash hands and food-contact (cutting boards) surfaces often. Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and onto cutting boards, knives, sponges and counter tops. Use only clean kitchen cloths and towels, and wash them promptly after wiping up meat juices. Scrub fruits and vegetables under running water.
Separate: Don't cross-contaminate. Don't let bacteria spread from one food, especially raw meat, poultry and seafood, to another. Keep meats and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods, and don’t store them above vegetables in the refrigerator in case they drip fluid. Use separate cutting boards for meats and vegetables.
Cook: Foods are properly cooked when they are heated long enough and at a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Use a food thermometer to make sure meat is thoroughly cooked.
Chill: Refrigerate leftovers promptly. Don’t leave food on the counter to cool down. Refrigerating foods quickly keeps most harmful bacteria from growing and multiplying. The refrigerator should be set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. The settings’ accuracy should be checked occasionally with a thermometer.
Private community events
Private community events, such as potlucks, have additional food safety considerations. Click here for food safety practices to consider when participating in a food-sharing gathering.
More Americans are choosing to shop locally and take advantage of farm fresh products. This is a positive trend toward eating more healthfully. However, buying unpasteurized or “raw” milk should not be confused with consuming healthier foods. In fact, raw milk and raw milk products can pose considerable risks and can cause severe illness, even death. Children are especially vulnerable. Any perceived health benefits from drinking raw milk are far outweighed by the risks.
Selling raw milk
Although it is legal to sell raw milk in Clark County, vendors wishing to sell raw milk at farmers markets are required to post signage that contains the following language:
"WARNING: Raw milk or foods prepared from raw milk may be contaminated with dangerous bacteria capable of causing severe illness. Contact your local health agency for advice or to report a suspected illness."