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Focusing on the Issues: Isolating Foodborne Illness

Norovirus

Source: FoodSafety.gov

Some new focus has come to the world of food safety thanks to the publication of: “Attribution of Foodborne Illnesses, Hospitalizations, and Deaths to Food Commodities by using Outbreak Data, United States, 1998–2008.” in the latest issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

In the study, produce was responsible for 46% of foodborne illness cases in the time period examined. In produce, leafy vegetables led the pack in attributed illnesses, with norovirus being the most common culprit affecting the market.  The greatest number of deaths were attributed to land animal commodities. About 19% of the deaths reported were connected to poultry, with many of these cases linked to Listeria or Salmonella.

In all, seventeen commodities were examined in the study that covered 1998-2008.    So, what is to be made of these findings? The authors describe that the study is a useful step in addressing foodborne illness, but a great deal of work needs to be done in order to effectively follow up on these results. “The attribution of foodborne-associated illnesses and deaths to specific commodities is useful for prioritizing public health activities; however, additional data on the specific food consumed is needed to assess per-serving risk.” If you would like to learn more about the study (methods, results, etc.), you can check out the article in full here for free on the CDC’s website.

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