Leafy vegetables are blamed for the largest number of foodborne illnesses between 1998 and 2008, according to a report released yesterday, Jan. 29, by, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), with 22 percent of food poisoning cases originating from this source.
Outbreaks of E. coli transmitted by spinach and lettuce indicate a need to address contamination of foods that people usually consume raw, according to the CDC. This does not mean people should avoid eating fresh produce.
“The risk for foodborne illness is just one part of the risk–benefit equation for foods; other factors, such as the health benefits of consuming a diet high in fruits and vegetables, must also be considered.” — Dr. John Painter, et al., CDC
Poultry was the largest contributor to death by food poising. It was found to be the vehicle of disease transmission in 19 percent of foodborne illness deaths, most caused by Listeria or Salmonella. Over the 10 years studied, there were three major Listeria outbreaks. These outbreaks were attributed to deli turkey meat that was contaminated in the processing plant after cooking.
Dairy products were the second leading cause of illness. The report attributes this to consumer consumption of unpasteurized (raw) milk products, improper pasteurization processes, or improper handling of dairy products after pasteurization.
The CDC report is an analysis of data contributed by state and local health organizations, and will be used to aid in the prioritizing of public health policy.