Environmental Health

Consumer Food Safety


Eating Fish and Crabs Caught in New Jersey Waters (Fish Smart, Eat Smart)

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and Department of Health (NJDOH) provide advice on consuming those species of fish in which high levels of chemical contaminants have been found. Since levels of contaminants may vary from one location to another and from one fish species to another, the advisories are also separated by site. So be sure to check which guidelines refer to your fishing location and the fish species you catch. Read more from NJ Department of Environmental Protection. [PDF]

Inorganic Arsenic Levels in Infant Rice Cereal

The FDA is finalizing guidance that will help protect public health by reducing infants’ exposure to inorganic arsenic, which has been associated with neurodevelopmental effects. Read more from FDA.

Products Containing Dextromethorphan

New Jersey Law prohibits the sale of certain products containing dextromethorphan to persons under the age of 18 years old. A list of all products containing dextromethorphan as an active ingredient can be found at Medline Plus.

New Action Levels for Lead

The FDA announced action levels for lead in categories of processed baby foods as part of their campaign Closer to Zero. This campaign seeks to reduce exposure to lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury to the lowest levels possible in foods eaten by babies and young children. Foods covered by the guidance include food packaged in jars, pouches, tubs, and boxes that are intended for babies and young children less than two years old.

The draft guidance contains the following action levels: 

  • 10 parts per billion (ppb) for fruits, vegetables (excluding single-ingredient root vegetables), mixtures (including grain and meat-based mixtures), yogurts. custards/puddings and single-ingredient meats. 
  • 20 ppb for root vegetables (single ingredient).
  • 20 ppb for dry cereals.

The FDA considers these action levels to be achievable when measures are taken to minimize the presence of lead and expects that industry will strive for continual reduction of this contaminant. More information is available at FDA Announces Action Levels for Lead in Categories of Processed Baby Foods | FDA.



Recalls.gov lists the most recent recalls issued by the six participating federal regulatory agencies. Each link opens a new window at the issuing agency's web site. For recall information about food, drugs, medical devices, and biologics, read more at Recalls.gov.


Consumer questions about food recalls may be directed to FDA's Food and Cosmetic Information Center. Read more at FDA FCIC.




If you think you have food poisoning or an allergic reaction to food, call your doctor. If it's an emergency, call 911. To report a problem with food, contact your local health department. Reporting illnesses to your local health department helps them identify potential outbreaks of foodborne disease. Public health officials investigate outbreaks to control them, so more people do not get sick in the outbreak, and to learn how to prevent similar outbreaks from happening in the future. Read more at FoodSafety.gov



Food-borne illness is caused by consuming contaminated foods or beverages. Many different disease-causing microbes or pathogens can contaminate foods, so there are many different types of food-borne illnesses. Food-borne illness, caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites, can be caused by consuming improperly prepared food items, poor hygiene among food handlers, or contamination in food processing facilities or farms. Many food-borne pathogens also can be acquired through recreational or drinking water, from contact with animals or their environment, or through person-to-person spread. Read more from NJDOH Communicable Disease Service.


Common symptoms of foodborne diseases are nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. However, symptoms may differ among the different types of foodborne diseases. Symptoms can sometimes be severe, and some foodborne illnesses can even be life-threatening. Read more from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



Food allergies and other types of food hypersensitivities affect millions of Americans and their families. Food allergies occur when the body's immune system reacts to certain proteins in food. Food allergic reactions vary in severity from mild symptoms involving hives and lip swelling to severe, life-threatening symptoms, often called anaphylaxis, that may involve fatal respiratory problems and shock. While promising prevention and therapeutic strategies are being developed, food allergies currently cannot be cured. Early recognition and learning how to manage food allergies, including which foods to avoid, are important measures to prevent serious health consequences. Read more from FDA.



Regular handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. Whether you are at home, at work, traveling, or out in the community, find out how handwashing with soap and water can protect you and your family. Read more from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Food Safety Information
Get the latest news, alerts, and tips on safely handling and storing food to prevent food poisoning. Read more from FoodSafety.gov.


Safe Food Handling and Preparation
Cook, clean, chill, and separate - these are the four vital rules for handling and preparing foods safely.  Use this collection of factsheets to learn how to put these rules into practice when preparing, storing or cooking your favorite proteins. Read more from US Department of Agriculture.


Preventing Foodborne Illness and Protecting Public Health
Consumers, communities, industry and government all work together to prevent foodborne illness. Take steps to ensure your food is safe by learning best practices for how to buy, prepare and store food safely. Read more from US Department of Agriculture.


Fresh and Frozen Seafood Safety
As with any type of food it is important to handle seafood safely to reduce the risk of foodborne illness, often called “food poisoning.” Follow these safe handling tips for buying, preparing, and storing fish and shellfish – and you and your family can safely enjoy the fine taste and good nutrition of seafood. Read more from FDA.


Ground Beef and Hamburger Safety
Raw and undercooked meat may contain harmful bacteria. USDA recommends not eating or tasting raw or undercooked ground beef. To be sure all bacteria are destroyed, cook meat loaf, meatballs, and hamburgers to a safe minimum internal temperature of 160 °F (71.1 °C). Read more from US Department of Agriculture.


Chemicals, Metals, Pesticides, and Toxins in Food
This section provides information on reducing health risks associated with chemical, metals, pesticides, and toxins. Read more from FDA.


Complete Guide to Home Canning
All home-canned foods should be canned according to the procedures in this Guide. Low-acid and tomato foods not canned according to the recommendations in this publication or according to other USDA-endorsed recommendations present a risk of botulism. Read more from USDA.



How to Understand and use the Nutrition Facts Label
People look at food labels for a variety of reasons. But whatever the reason, many consumers would like to know how to use this information more effectively and easily. The following label-reading skills are intended to make it easier for you to use the Nutrition Facts labels to make quick, informed food decisions to help you choose a healthy diet. Read more from FDA.


Food Safety for Pregnant Women and Their Unborn Babies
Foodborne illness is a serious health risk for pregnant women and their unborn babies. Read more from FDA.


Food Safety for Older Adults and People with a Weakened Immune System
Food safety is important for everyone – but it’s extremely important for individuals with a weakened immune system, which makes them especially vulnerable to foodborne illness. This guide is intended to help older adults and people with cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, organ transplants, or autoimmune diseases avoid foodborne infections. Read more from FDA.


Fresh Produce
Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. Your local markets carry a wide variety of nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables. However, harmful bacteria that may be in the soil or water where produce grows can come in contact with fruits and vegetables and contaminate them. Fresh produce may also become contaminated after it is harvested, such as during storage or preparation. Read more from FDA.


Dietary and Vitamin Supplements
Given the abundance and conflicting nature of information now available about dietary supplements, you may need help to sort the reliable information from the questionable. Read more from FDA.


Juice Safety
Juices provide many important nutrients, but consuming untreated juices can pose health risks to your family. Read more from FDA.


Dangers of Raw Milk
Milk and milk products provide a wealth of nutrition benefits. But raw milk, i.e., unpasteurized milk, can harbor dangerous microorganisms that can pose serious health risks to you and your family. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 1993 through 2012, there were 127 outbreaks linked to raw milk or raw milk products like ice cream, soft cheese, or yogurt. Read more from FDA.


Raw Oyster Myths
Raw oysters contaminated with Vibrio vulnificus can be life threatening, even fatal when eaten by someone with liver disease, diabetes or a weakened immune system. However, there are myths that encourage people to eat raw oysters in spite of these dangers. Read more from FDA.



Jersey Fresh
New Jersey farmers are known for producing the highest quality produce and using the safest handling practices.  Consumers expect their produce to be safe to eat and consumer confidence is important to the state's produce industry.  Our Jersey Fresh farmers must meet the high-quality standards of the Jersey Fresh grading program.  It is more than an advertising logo.  It is a comprehensive program of assuring the highest quality product is coming from our local growers. Read more from NJ Department of Agriculture.


National Organic Program
NOP is a federal regulatory program that develops and enforces consistent national standards for organically produced agricultural products sold in the United States. Read more from US Department of Agriculture.


Last Reviewed: 2/8/2023