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Big 6 Foodborne Ilnesses | Download Free Template

How to use the Big 6 Foodborne Illness Poster?

Using the Big 6 Foodborne Illness Poster is a helpful way to educate food handlers about these common foodborne pathogens and the steps they can take to prevent foodborne illnesses.

Here's how to use our free poster effectively:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the Big 6 Foodborne Illness Poster. 
  2. Enter a valid email address.
  3. Download the poster. Click on "Download." The checklist will be automatically saved in your downloads folder.
  4. Pin the poster in a visible area and communicate the information with your team. 

By effectively using the Big 6 Foodborne Illness Poster, you can raise awareness about these pathogens, educate individuals on prevention measures, and contribute to a safer food handling environment.

It is important for your employees to be trained with the poster.

Make food safety compliance more efficient and effective with the help of our intuitive Food Safety Management System. Get smart solutions, such as a real-time dashboard and automatically generated monitoring tasks for ensuring food safety compliance among your team. 

Stay Safe, Stay Informed: Big 6 Foodborne Illnesses Poster

The Big 6 foodborne pathogens are identified as the major sources of outbreaks every year. Food businesses are responsible for training employees in controlling them. 

Every year, at least 48 million foodborne illnesses are caused by 250 foodborne disease agents in the US. These foodborne illnesses put the lives of consumers in danger. In addition, they also slow down the economic growth of a nation.

Out of these 250 foodborne illness-causing agents identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, six of them dominate most of the foodborne illness cases. Knowing these Big 6 foodborne illnesses would help food handlers address them properly and prevent them from causing any problems.

Key points covered:

  1. The Big 6 foodborne pathogens are microorganisms identified by the U.S. FDA to cause the most cases of foodborne illnesses cases each year.
  2. The Big 6 foodborne illness-causing pathogens include the following: Norovirus, Nontyphoidal Salmonella, Salmonella Typhi, toxin-producing E.coli, Shigella, and Hepatitis A.
  3. The Big 6 foodborne illness poster is a useful tool to educate food handlers on the dangers of these pathogens. 
  4. All types of food businesses, including food service, production, and retail, would benefit from educational tools such as the Big 6 foodborne illnesses poster. 
  5. To serve quality and safe products, food establishments must train their employees on the sources, symptoms, and proper handling techniques to control the spread of the Big 6 foodborne illnesses.
  6. These foodborne illness agents can easily enter the food supply chain at any given point without proper food handling and monitoring systems.
  7. Foodborne pathogens can cause different forms of food poisoning or severe infections and harm your customers.
  8. Symptoms of acute gastroenteritis illnesses from the Big 6 foodborne pathogens include stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and fever. 
  9. FoodDocs' smart Food Safety Management System can generate a customizable Employee Hygiene Checklist that can be used to ensure that food handlers adhere to strict hygiene standards.
  10. A real-time dashboard from our smart software can be used to oversee everyday food safety operations and ensure compliance. 


In this article, we dive deeper into the implications of the Big 6 foodborne pathogens and how our free printable Big 6 foodborne illnesses poster can help your team.

What are the Big 6 foodborne illnesses?

Known as the most highly infectious and dominant pathogens, the Big 6 pathogens include the following:
  • Norovirus
  • Nontyphoidal Salmonella
  • Salmonella Typhi
  • E. coli
  • Shigella 
  • Hepatitis A

Of known 250 foodborne diseases, the majority of them are caused by biological hazards that may either be a variety of bacteria, molds, yeasts, viruses, or parasites. These pathogens cause most of these foodborne illnesses, whereas others are unspecified agents. Collectively, they can be found in common sources, such as animal fecal matter, and can work their way into the food through the food handlers and untreated water.

A great source of contamination from these pathogens is cross - contamination. Among the three major ways of cross - contamination, food handlers are the fastest mode to spread pathogenic organisms to food.

Without proper food safety practices, food handlers can spread these pathogens inside and outside the kitchen.

Touching kitchen surfaces and raw meats, raw seafood, raw fruits, milk cheeses, or other food sources without washing hands in between can cause widespread food contamination by pathogens. Additionally, an infected person, whether a food handler or a customer, can become a fast spreader of these pathogens.

Avoiding cross-contaminating foods is a top priority inside a kitchen area. 

The best way to control these pathogens is by having a comprehensive and complete food safety management system. Use FoodDocs' smart Food Safety Management System to generate critical monitoring checks, such as an Employee Hygiene Checklist. 

Use the digital monitoring tasks that our smart system creates to ensure that all food handlers will follow food safety rules accordingly. 

What are the possible effects of the Big 6 pathogens?

The effects of these pathogens can vary in severity, depending on factors such as the individual's age, overall health, the amount of contamination ingested, and the specific strain of the pathogen involved.

These pathogens can cause mild to severe foodborne illnesses in consumers that can manifest through the following gastrointestinal symptoms:

  • Mild to severe diarrhea (Can be watery or bloody diarrhea depending on the degree of infection)
  • Abdominal cramps/ Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Weakness of body

Depending on the severity or degree of the contamination, these pathogens can cause more severe symptoms, such as acute or chronic diseases and blood infection, and can eventually lead to death.

This is especially true for individuals with weakened immune systems or vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, children under 5 years old, and the elderly. With their optimal growth under favorable conditions, they can cause larger environmental diseases and even infect a healthy person.

Why did the FDA identify the Big 6 pathogens?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration singled out the mentioned 6 foodborne pathogens as the "Big 6" because they are reported to have caused the most foodborne illness cases each year.

The FDA Big 6 is widely known in the food industry as the list of highly contagious foodborne pathogens. By targeting these pathogens, regulatory agencies can have a more substantial impact on reducing the overall incidence of foodborne illnesses.

Recognizing the seriousness of illnesses caused by these pathogens, the FDA and other agencies prioritize their prevention.

Why is it important to know the Big 6 foodborne illnesses?

A part of the responsibility of a food handler is to protect consumers from potential food safety hazards that may cause foodborne illnesses. The first step to do this task is to acquaint food handlers with what hazards they are dealing with.

They must be aware of which are the bad bacteria and other pathogens that can cause any disease in humans.

Knowing about the Big 6 foodborne illnesses is important for several reasons:

  1. Food safety and public health. Foodborne illnesses can have serious health consequences, including hospitalization and, in some cases, death. Knowing about these common foodborne pathogens allows businesses to implement strict food safety practices.
  2. Reduce food costs. Foodborne illnesses can result in financial losses due to recalls, lawsuits, medical expenses, and lost revenue from reduced customer confidence. By preventing outbreaks, businesses can minimize these costs. Understanding how these pathogens spread can also help prevent food spoilage and wastage. 
  3. Legal and regulatory compliance. Food safety regulations and standards are in place to protect public health. Awareness of the Big 6 helps businesses comply with these regulations and avoid potential legal issues, fines, or shutdowns due to non-compliance.
  4. Risk management. Learning about the Big 6 foodborne illnesses helps mitigate most food safety hazards in the food industry. These pathogens can be seen in the most common sources in the kitchen, two of which are water and the raw food items themselves.

Despite the significant effects of these foodborne illnesses, they can be controlled. Food that was processed to a correct temperature has significantly less tendency to retain these pathogens. Improper cooking temperatures can encourage bacterial growth. 

The best way to ensure that your food business takes all the necessary precautions to control the Big 6 foodborne illness-causing pathogens is to use FoodDocs' intuitive Food Safety Management System. 

Using our smart software, food businesses can get a real-time dashboard that reflects your food safety status. Quickly get an overview of your food safety operations and identify which areas require more attention. With such a feature, you can ensure that all critical control points designed for the Big 6 are executed correctly all the time. 

Food Safety Management System


What is a Big 6 foodborne illnesses poster?

A Big 6 foodborne illnesses poster is a reference material that contains the most significant pathogens in the food industry, a list of common symptoms from their effects, and appropriate food safety practices to control them.

The objective of this tool is to educate food handlers, whether in a food service establishment, food production company, or food retail store, about the significant foodborne illnesses.

Using this reference poster for food workers, it would be easier to identify which among the pathogens is the causative agent of food poisoning or gastrointestinal illness. This will then help them address the problem.

This educational poster is part of FoodDocs' Template Hub, which consists of tens of templates, checklists, signs, and smart tools for all food businesses. 

Who needs a Big 6 foodborne illnesses poster?

The Big 6 foodborne illness poster was made to benefit food businesses, such as:
  • food service establishments (e.g., restaurants, bakeries, ghost kitchens, and food trucks);
  • food retail stores;
  • food manufacturing companies, and
  • food institutions. 

The pathogens included in these posters are commonly sourced from very conventional ingredients that are normally present in any kitchen.

Some of these sources include high-risk foods such as uncooked meat, fresh fruit, vegetables, unpasteurized milk, dairy products, water, and raw eggs. These pathogens can also be transmitted through contaminated water and cause diarrheal illness. The risk of having these hazards on your food increases when they come from an unapproved source of materials.

Additionally, this poster can help food handlers remember the most important food safety practices to control the Big 6 foodborne infections.

What are the benefits of a Big 6 foodborne illnesses poster?

Like most food reference materials, the main objective of a Big 6 foodborne illnesses poster is to increase awareness among food handlers and consumers.

To clearly see how this poster can help you in managing your food safety procedures, here are a few benefits that this poster could provide you with:

  • Reminder. As mentioned, food handlers are the most probable carriers and spreaders of the Big 6 foodborne illnesses. A Big 6 foodborne illnesses poster can serve as a daily reminder for food handlers to do common practices such as regular handwashing and cooking foods to the proper temperature. It also gives food handlers an idea of which foods are considered high-risk and can cause severe illness. 
  • Food safety promotion. When placed in other areas of the food service facility, such as the service area, a Big 6 foodborne illnesses poster can help promote food safety among consumers and servers alike. It helps raise awareness among food handlers.
  • Cost-saving. With all food handlers reminded daily of the proper food safety practices, your food establishment becomes protected from complaints and lawsuits. The awareness that this poster brings also helps reduce the amount of food waste as a result of spoilage. 
  • Food safety training. A Big 6 foodborne illnesses poster can also become a great training material for new food workers. It can be used to acquaint them with the most significant foodborne pathogens and the fundamental food handler-safe practices in the food service industry.

The information in a Big 6 foodborne illnesses poster is important in controlling food safety in your food establishment. It contributes to the requirement for food safety practices to become effective, which is consistency. For these practices to consistently play their parts, they have to be observed every day.

How to prevent the Big 6 foodborne illnesses?

Preventing the Big 6 foodborne illnesses requires a combination of proper food handling, hygiene, and food safety practices.

The Big 6 foodborne illnesses poster contains the most effective food safety practices to prevent and control these pathogens. Some of these practices include:

These are just some critical examples of food safety rules and tips that must always be observed in any food business kitchen.

Preventing the Big 6 foodborne illnesses requires diligence and a commitment to safe food handling practices. By following these guidelines and staying informed about food safety, you can reduce the risk of contamination and protect yourself and others from foodborne illnesses.

How to prevent the Big 6 foodborne illnesses with the help of FoodDocs?

The Big 6 foodborne pathogens cause most identified foodborne illnesses and reported cases. Monitoring their control and prevention is, therefore, a significant job to produce only safe cooked products.

To solve this problem, our team of food safety experts has come up with a smart Food Safety Management System that ensures your food safety at all times.

What does a digital FSMS offer to every food business? Here is a list:
  1. Employee hygiene checklist to ensure high hygiene standards
  2. Step-by-step instructions to ensure accurate execution
  3. Customizable system to tailor monitoring to business needs
  4. Real-time dashboard to get an overview of operations

Employee hygiene checklist to ensure high hygiene standards

Ensure that all food handlers take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the Big 6 foodborne illnesses with the help of our digital Employ Hygiene Checklist.

This monitoring check is automatically generated with the most essential hygiene tasks for food handlers. In addition, you can further customize the tasks according to your business needs. Add new tasks or improve existing operations in the checklist to fit your everyday operations. 


 Employee hygiene checklist from FoodDocs software

The check is designed to monitor whether food handlers are following minimum hygiene standards before and during operations. With this feature, factors contributing to the spread of foodborne pathogens from food handlers can be eliminated. 

Conduct the employee hygiene inspection using any mobile device through our Food Safety App

Step-by-step instructions to ensure accurate execution

All automatically generated monitoring tasks and checks come with detailed and educative instructions on how to execute and monitor food safety practices. Controlling the Big 6 foodborne illnesses requires accuracy of food handling tasks, which can be ensured through strict training.

Food safety managers can use our preuploaded instructions to show food handlers how to perform food safety tasks correctly. In addition, managers can upload their own versions of the instructions as images or videos. 

Ensure that the Big 6 foodborne illness-causing pathogens are diligently controlled with the help of clear food safety instructions.

Customizable system to tailor monitoring to business needs

With the help of artificial intelligence, our smart software automatically tailor suggested monitoring tasks and checks based on your business operations. Despite this, we understand how food businesses may have unique operations that require specialized monitoring tasks. 

As such, we developed our monitoring system to be flexible and customizable. Incorporate critical tasks from your operations in checklists, such as our Employee Hygiene Checklist. You can also use this feature to improve monitoring tasks based on the feedback of food safety inspectors.

Apply personal or applicable food safety standards and corrective actions on monitoring checks and tasks. 

Real-time dashboard to get an overview of operations

A real-time dashboard that reflects your everyday progress. This feature reflects the status of the scheduled food safety tasks each day across your businesses.

Monitor all critical tasks that are designed to control the Big 6 foodborne illnesses and ensure that all of them are performed on time and correctly. You can also use this feature to identify areas that need more attention for improvement. Address issues as they occur to minimize potential problems from non-compliance.

Our real-time dashboard can help managers save at least 20% of their time supervising their team while ensuring food safety and maintaining a high level of standards.


Real-time dashboard from FoodDocs software

Let our intuitive Food Safety Management System help you keep your food safety compliance statute by creating more efficient ways to monitor and control hazards such as the Big 6 foodborne illnesses. Switch to our digital platform and save your employees time doing all the repetitive daily tasks.

Learn more about our digital FSMS services and explore how our product works using our free 14-day trial.  




Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Big 6 foodborne pathogens?

The Big 6 foodborne pathogens, according to the FDA, include Norovirus, Salmonella Typhi, Shigella, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (E.coli), nontyphoidal Salmonella, and the Hepatitis A virus. They are the major pathogens that cause significant disturbances, such as major outbreaks, in the food and health sectors. 

What causes "the big 6" pathogens to be singled out by the FDA?

The FDA singles out the Big 6 pathogens due to their prevalence, severity, economic impact, preventability, public health consequences, and regulatory implications. The Big 6 foodborne pathogens cause major health and economic issues yearly in the health and food industry. 

What does the FDA foodborne illness chart include?

The FDA foodborne illness chart includes information on common foodborne pathogens, their sources, symptoms, onset times, and associated foods to help identify and address foodborne illness in humans.

Are the Big 6 pathogens highly infectious?

The Big 6 pathogens can vary in terms of infectivity, but many of them are considered highly infectious, leading to a significant number of foodborne illnesses when proper food safety measures are not followed.

What six pathogens have been dubbed the "big six"? Why have they been singled out by the FDA?

The 6 major pathogens dubbed by the FDA as the Big Six include the following:
  • Norovirus
  • Hepatitis A 
  • Salmonella Typhi
  • Nontyphoidal Salmonella
  • Shiga toxin-producing E.coli
  • Shigella
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