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Foodborne illness is caused by eating bacteria, viruses, or toxins in food. It is spread when people eat contaminated or undercooked meat, poultry, shellfish, fish, or other foods, or by drinking contaminated water..


In Boston, if you suspect a foodborne illness, you should report it to the Boston Public Health Commission at (617) 534-5611. A public health nurse will ask you what your symptoms are, what you have eaten in the past few days, and where you have eaten. All information is kept confidential.

If a restaurant is suspected of being the cause of one or more cases of foodborne illness, the BPHC works with the Boston Inspectional Services Department (ISD). ISD is the city agency that inspects restaurants in the city of Boston. If a restaurant is the suspected cause of a case of foodborne illness, ISD will perform a complete inspection to determine if the restaurant is adhering to the sanitary code.

If you are interested in seeing a restaurant's inspection history, the city has designed a user-friendly website called the Mayor's Food Court.


The Boston Public Health Commission has launched public awareness campaigns to promote food safety and reduce foodborne illness. These campaigns have included brochures, fact sheets, and videos on proper food safety available in several languages. By following a simple checklist, “Chill, Clean, Separate, and Cook,’’ residents can keep their food and families healthy. The material is available free of charge to community health centers, hospitals, senior citizen centers, and other agencies. To request copies of the brochures or videos, please use "Contact Us".

View our videos:

Download our food poisoning brochures or click here:

See right for a list of disease specific fact sheets (many are available in multiple languages). Fact sheets on other infectious diseases can be found here.


Food products are taken off grocery store shelves and recalled when there is concern they might be contaminated. The Boston Public Health Commission urges consumers to check at home for recalled products and throw the product away. For a complete list of food recalls, go to, or visit the US Centers for ​Disease Control (CDC), US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for updated information on food recalls.

Click Here for Recent Product Recalls​

Boston Public Health Commission
1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
Phone:(617) 534-5395 Email: