Food Poisoning Report Shows Salmonella Cases Down, but Other Foodborne Infections on the Rise

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Food Poisoning Report

In a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it shows the rate of food poisoning caused by salmonella dropping, but an increase in illnesses from bacteria in raw shellfish.

The rate of Salmonella infections dropped by about 9 percent compared with the previous three years, though it was unchanged from 2006-2008, baseline years used for comparison.

Campylobacter infections, a bacteria mostly linked to raw dairy and chicken are up 13 percent since 2006-2008.

Rates of Vibrio infection linked to raw shellfish were at their highest level since tracking began in 1996, though infections from most severe Virbio bacteria, Vibrio vulnificus, remained steady.

Vibrio infections “can be prevented by postharvest treatment of oysters with heat, freezing, or high pressure, by thorough cooking, or by not eating oysters during warmer months,” the CDC said in its report.

“CDC data are essential to gauge how we’re doing in our fight against foodborne illness,” said Robert Tauxe, M.D., M.P.H, deputy director of CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases. “This year’s data show some recent progress in reducing salmonella rates, and also highlight that our work to reduce the burden of foodborne illness is far from over. To keep salmonella on the decline, we need to work with the food industry and our federal, state and local partners to implement strong actions to control known risks and to detect foodborne germs lurking in unsuspected foods.”

The CDC report documented about 20,000 illnesses and 80 deaths in the 10 states, similar to previous years. The CDC estimates that 1 in 6 Americans get sick from contaminated food each year, however; officials say that there are many more cases that are not reported.

So how can you prevent food poisoning? Wash and clean food, and cook meat, poultry and eggs thoroughly. Avoid raw milk and unpasteurized juices. Promptly refrigerate leftovers.

A government report last year showed leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach were the top source of food poisoning, and in general, produce accounted for nearly half of all illnesses. There were slightly more deaths attributed to poultry than to vegetables in the decade studied.

The Department of Agriculture is working on new rules for poultry and plans to modernize poultry inspection. The FDA last year proposed rules to implement the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act that requires companies to develop a formal plan for preventing the causes of food illness and force produce farms with a high risk of contamination to develop new hygiene, soil and temperature controls.

“Steps are underway to address many of the concerns raised in this report, such as our Salmonella Action PlanExternal Web Site Icon and other plans to modernize food inspection,” said Assistant Administrator for FSIS’ Office of Public Health Science David Goldman, M.D., M.P.H.. “As these actions are being implemented, we are beginning to see progress, and I am confident we will see further improvement over time.”

“The latest information from FoodNet highlights the importance of continuing preventive measures from the farm to the consumer,” said Stephen Ostroff, M.D., the FDA’s acting chief scientist. “We are making significant progress in implementing the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, having issued seven proposed rules addressing the safety of produce, imported foods, and human and animal food production and transportation. Full implementation of these rules will help prevent these types of infections.”

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