As human beings, we have millions of bacteria in and on our bodies - in fact, they make up two pounds of our body weight. Most of these bacteria are helpful. However, some bacteria cause disease; these organisms are pathogenic.

A pathogen is a microorganism, such as a bacterium or fungus that causes disease. A "foodborne" pathogen is one that infects you when you eat contaminated food. There are more than 200 known foodborne diseases caused by pathogens; however, the actual figure is estimated to be much larger. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated in 1999 that more than 1 in 4 US Citizens suffer from a foodborne illness every year, resulting in 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths.