Tuesday, January 29, 2013

CDC-Foodborne Disease Outbreaks - United States, 2009–2010

The CDC released a study today on foodborne illnesses via CDC’s Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System which reported;
During 2009–2010, beef, dairy, fish, and poultry were associated with the largest number of foodborne disease outbreaks.

What is added by this report?
Among the 1,527 foodborne disease outbreaks reported in 2009 and 2010, most outbreak-associated illnesses were caused by norovirus or Salmonella. Among outbreaks in which both an etiologic agent and single-commodity food vehicle were identified, most outbreaks were attributed to Campylobacter in unpasteurized dairy products, Salmonella in eggs, and Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli O157 in beef. The pathogen-commodity pairs responsible for the most outbreak-related illnesses were Salmonella in eggs (2,231 illnesses), in sprouts (493), and in vine-stalk vegetables (422).
 View the report;
This Week in MMWR

Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks — United States, 2009–2010January 25, 2013 / Vol. 62 / No. 3

Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks — United States, 2009–2010
Known pathogens cause an estimated 9.4 million foodborne illnesses annually in the United States. During 2009–2010, a total of 1,527 foodborne disease outbreaks (675 in 2009 and 852 in 2010) were reported in the United States via CDC’s Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System. This report summarizes findings from that surveillance....
Reported today online by The Associated Press 

NEW YORK (AP) -- A big government study has fingered leafy greens like lettuce and spinach as the leading source of food poisoning, a perhaps uncomfortable conclusion for health officials who want us to eat our vegetables.
Continue Reading.....

Reported online by USA Today

CDC: Beware the leafy green, poultry and dairy

Leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach and kale accounted for the most food-borne illnesses nationwide from 1998 through 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

Dairy products accounted for the most hospitalizations. The most deaths were linked to poultry.

The study isn't meant to be a "risk of illness per serving" list for consumers, said Patricia Griffin, a food-borne disease expert at the CDC who was the senior author of the report. The statistics are meant to help regulators and the food industry target efforts to improve the safety of food.

"The vast majority of meals are safe," she said, so don't let the numbers for leafy greens keep you from eating vegetables. "Eating them is so important to a healthy diet. They're linked to reduced risk of heart attacks, stroke and cancer."

The study looked at 4,887 outbreaks that caused 128,269 illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths when the food that caused them was known or suspected. It appears Tuesday in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Epidemiologists at the CDC found that leafy greens accounted for 23% of illnesses and dairy products 14%. However, when they looked only at hospitalizations, the lineup was different: Dairy products were responsible for 16% of hospitalizations followed by leafy vegetables at 14% and poultry 12%. For deaths, poultry accounted for 19%, then dairy products at 10%.

The overall number of deaths was small: 277 people died from food-borne illnesses linked to poultry and 140 from illnesses linked to dairy products during those years.

While the statistical details won't be all that helpful to consumers, it's "essential" for government agencies and the food industry as they work to make food safer, Griffin said.

That's especially the case now that implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act is underway. The act requires the Food and Drug Administration to focus its regulatory efforts on the highest-risk food products. Until now, they were hard to identify.

Griffin cautions that the dairy product numbers are misleading. Many of the outbreaks linked to dairy products involve unpasteurized milk and cream, but the vast majority of Americans drink and eat only pasteurized dairy products.

"The weight of the raw milk outbreaks is making it look as if dairy is a bigger source of illness than we actually think it is," she said.

A study published last year that looked at 13 years of outbreaks linked to dairy products found that unpasteurized milk, cheese and cream were 150 times more likely to cause food-borne illness outbreaks than pasteurized dairy foods and that such outbreaks had a hospitalization rate 13 times higher than those involving pasteurized dairy products.                                                

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