Food Poisoning Viruses

problematic foodborne pathogens

Viruses & Foodborne Illness

Viruses are thought to be the leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States based on the percentage of people ill, even though there are only a few viruses that are important foodborne pathogens.
Viruses are much smaller than bacteria and cannot live outside a host, such as an animal or the human body. They are not cells but look more like particles (they have a protein coat, not a cell wall); reproducing only when they invade living cells. Although they do not multiply in food products, it can take only a few viral particles to make a person sick. Viruses are easily transferred from one food product to another, from contaminated water to foods, and from infected food handlers to foods. The two most well-known foodborne viruses are Hepatitis A and Norovirus (also known as Norwalk virus). Antibiotic drugs will not help in treatment because antibiotics fight against bacteria not viruses.

the most common types

Viruses that cause foodborne illness

Real People with real stories


Protect yourself against norovirus

Noroviruses are the leading cause of gastroenteritis and foodborne disease outbreaks in the United States.

Pathogen reference table

Incubation/Onset table

recent recalls
and outbreaks

STOP culls recall and outbreak information from FDA, USDA, CFIA and CDC for our constituents who  sign up for our free e-Alerts.

Covering all 50 US States and Puerto Rico, and ten Canadian provinces and three territories, each recall notice includes the item(s) recalled, the contaminating pathogen, the states and provinces impacted, details about the products, and links to more information.


in your state or province (USA/Canada).


for foods contaminated with pathogens.

Share your foodborne illness story

We Will Help You Every Step Of The Way

Information provided in this section is in the public domain and is provided by US Food and Drug Administration (FDA); US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS); the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD);
and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

This information is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a healthcare provider.
If you have any questions about the bacteria described in this section or think that you may have a bacterial infection, please consult a healthcare provider.