Food Safety

Dedicated to communicating the importance of proper food safety – both at home and in public

Summary Overview

Food-related diseases affect tens of millions of people and kill thousands. Tracking single cases of foodborne illness and investigating outbreaks are critical public health functions in which SRHD is deeply involved. Equally important is helping individuals understand how to prevent food from being contaminated as it is produced and prepared.


What is foodborne illness (disease, infection)?

  • Many different disease-causing microbes, or pathogens, can contaminate foods, so there are many different foodborne infections. In addition, poisonous chemicals, or other harmful substances can cause foodborne diseases if they are present in food.

You and Your Family- In the Home

Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often

Illness-causing bacteria can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils and cutting boards. Unless you wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces the right way, you could spread bacteria to your food, and your family.

  • Wash hands the right way—for 20 seconds with soap and running water
  • Wash surfaces and utensils after each use Wash fruits and veggies—but not meat, poultry, or eggs

Separate: Don’t Cross Contaminate

Even after you’ve cleaned your hands and surfaces thoroughly, raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can still spread illness-causing bacteria to ready-to-eat foods—unless you keep them separate.

  • Use separate cutting boards and plates for produce and for meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs
  • Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods at the grocery
  • Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods in the fridge

Cook: Cook to the right temperature

Did you know that the bacteria that cause food poisoning multiply quickest in the “Danger Zone” between 40˚ and 140˚ Fahrenheit? And while many people think they can tell when food is “done” simply by checking its color and texture, there’s no way to be sure it’s safe without following a few important but simple steps

  • Use a food thermometer
  • Keep food hot after cooking (at 140 ˚F or above)
  • Microwave food thoroughly (to 165 ˚F)

Chill: Refrigerate Promptly

By refrigerating foods promptly and properly, you can help keep your family safe from food poisoning at home.

Restaurant Safety

Food Safety Rules

The food vendors in the community, like restaurants, delis, grocery stores, and others, must follow local food safety rules

  • Safe source: Food or food ingredients come from a safe source.
  • Safe temperature: Food is held at the correct cold or hot holding temperatures.
  • Proper cooking: Food is cooked properly, especially foods such as meat, poultry, and pork.
  • Proper handling: Food is handled to prevent cross-contamination from the environment (for example, common work areas or common utensils).
  • Proper hand washing: Food handlers know how to prevent contamination, especially food handlers who may be sick with vomiting or diarrhea.


One of the ways food safety rules protect the public’s health is through food vendor inspections. To learn more about Spokane Regional Health District’s (SRHD’s) Food Safety program, click here.

Food Establishment Enforcement Procedures

Unlike many communities, SRHD does not “grade” its food establishments based on inspection findings. Instead, officials use a sequence of inspections as an establishment progresses through enforcement action, focused mainly on how much potential a infraction has to impact public health. For a summary of these enforcement actions, click here.

When visiting a food establishment, such as your favorite restaurant, or when reviewing its inspection report, these are some of the items to be aware of:

  • Unsafe food sources
  • Improper hot-holding or cold-holding of food
  • Improperly cooked food
  • Cross-contamination
  • Contamination by sick workers

Symptoms of Foodborne Illness
  • Different diseases have many different symptoms, so there is no one "symptom" that represents foodborne illness. However, the microbe or toxin enters the body through the gastrointestinal tract, and often causes the first symptoms there, so nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea are common symptoms in many foodborne diseases.

Foodborne illnesses include:

Food Safety

Spokane or Washington Specific Data


Reporting Foodborne Illness

Most people don’t report their illness. Spokane Regional Health District needs to know about illnesses that may be caused by food, so foodborne outbreaks can be identified and stopped as quickly as possible.

Report your illness to your local food safety regulator if you think a meal from a food vendor made you sick. It is especially important to report illnesses when more than one person gets sick after eating the same meal.

Contact Spokane Regional Health District with any foodborne illness complaint.

Each year, one in six Americans gets sick by consuming contaminated foods or beverages.  Source: (CDC)

Each year, one in six Americans gets sick by consuming contaminated foods or beverages. Source: (CDC)

Report Unsafe Food Handling Practices or Food-Borne Illness
Report Unsafe Food Handling Practices or Food-Borne Illness

Reporting unsafe practices and illnesses helps the health district identify potential food-borne disease outbreaks.

Report Now

Communicable Disease Epidemiology for Healthcare Providers
Communicable Disease Epidemiology for Healthcare Providers

Working with providers on the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases, illnesses and other factors relating to health.

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Spokane Food Coalition
Spokane Food Coalition

The Spokane Food Policy Council is a non-profit organization working on food systems issues.

Click Here