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Archive for the ‘foodborne illness’ Category

CRS — The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer (updated)

March 11, 2014 Comments off

The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via University of North Texas Digital Library)

Numerous federal, state, and local agencies share responsibilities for regulating the safety of the U.S. food supply. Federal responsibility for food safety rests primarily with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). FDA, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, is responsible for ensuring the safety of all domestic and imported food products (except for most meats and poultry). FDA also has oversight of all seafood, fish, and shellfish products. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) regulates most meat and poultry and some egg products. State and local food safety authorities collaborate with federal agencies for inspection and other food safety functions, and they regulate retail food establishments. Other federal agencies also play a role. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has identified as many as 15 federal agencies, including FDA and FSIS, as collectively administering at least 30 laws related to food safety. State and local food safety authorities collaborate with federal agencies for inspection and other food safety functions, and they regulate retail food establishments.

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CRS — Food Fraud and “Economically Motivated Adulteration” of Food and Food Ingredients

February 19, 2014 Comments off

Food Fraud and “Economically Motivated Adulteration” of Food and Food Ingredients (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via MSPB Watch)

Food fraud, or the act of defrauding buyers of food or ingredients for economic gain—whether they be consumers or food manufacturers, retailers, and importers—has vexed the food industry throughout history. Some of the earliest reported cases of food fraud, dating back thousands of years, involved olive oil, tea, wine, and spices. These products continue to be associated with fraud, along with some other foods. Although the vast majority of fraud incidents do not pose a public health risk, some cases have resulted in actual or potential public health risks. Perhaps the most high-profile case has involved the addition of melamine to high-protein feed and milk-based products to artificially inflate protein values in products that may have been diluted. In 2007, pet food adulterated with melamine reportedly killed a large number of dogs and cats in the United States, followed by reports that melamine-contaminated baby formula had sickened thousands of Chinese children. Fraud was also a motive behind Peanut Corporation of America’s actions in connection with the Salmonella outbreak in 2009, which killed 9 people and sickened 700. Reports also indicate that fish and seafood fraud is widespread, consisting mostly of a lowervalued species, which may be associated with some types of food poisoning or allergens, mislabeled as a higher-value species. Other types of foods associated with fraud include honey, meat and grain-based foods, fruit juices, organic foods, coffee, and some highly processed foods.

FDA warns against using Uncle Ben’s Infused Rice

February 10, 2014 Comments off

FDA warns against using Uncle Ben’s Infused Rice
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Fast Facts

  • Government officials are investigating a cluster of illnesses associated with Uncle Ben’s Infused Rice Mexican Flavor sold in 5- and 25-pound bags.
  • Out of an abundance of caution, the FDA is warning food service companies and consumers not to use any Uncle Ben’s Infused Rice products sold in 5- and 25-pound bags.
  • These products are sold to food service companies that typically distribute to restaurants, schools, hospitals and other commercial establishments. However, the products may be available over the Internet and at warehouse-type retailers.
  • Food service companies and consumers who have purchased the products should not use the rice, and should return it to their point of purchase or dispose of it.
  • Uncle Ben’s Brand Ready to Heat, Boxed, Bag or Cup products sold at grocery stores and other retail outlets are not being recalled.

FDA proposes rule to prevent food safety risks during transportation

February 3, 2014 Comments off

FDA proposes rule to prevent food safety risks during transportation
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today proposed a rule that would require certain shippers, receivers, and carriers who transport food by motor or rail vehicles to take steps to prevent the contamination of human and animal food during transportation.

Part of the implementation of the Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 2005, the proposal marks the seventh and final major rule in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA) central framework aimed at systematically building preventive measures across the food system. The proposed rule is open for public comment through May 31, 2014.

The high cost of cheap chicken

December 20, 2013 Comments off

The high cost of cheap chicken
Source: Consumer Reports

When you shop at your favorite grocery store, you probably assume that the food on display is safe to take home. But in the poultry aisle, that simple assumption could make you very sick. Consumer Reports’ recent analysis of more than 300 raw chicken breasts purchased at stores across the U.S. found potentially harmful bacteria lurking in almost all of the chicken, including organic brands. In fact, we were conducting our research when news of the national salmonella outbreak linked to three Foster Farms chicken plants became public. In that case 389 people were infected, and 40 percent of them were hospitalized, double the usual percentage in most outbreaks linked to salmonella. (Read about sustainable alternatives when it comes to raising chickens and watch our video on the use of antibiotics in animals.)

What’s going on with the nation’s most popular meat? (Americans buy an estimated 83 pounds per capita annually.) Though 48 million people fall sick every year from eating food tainted with salmonella, campylobacter, E. coli, and other contaminants, “more deaths were attributed to poultry than to any other commodity,” according to an analysis of outbreaks from 1998 through 2008 by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Here’s what you should know before buying your next package of chicken.

CDC releases new findings and prevention tools to improve food safety in restaurants

December 9, 2013 Comments off

CDC releases new findings and prevention tools to improve food safety in restaurants
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Increased awareness and implementation of proper food safety in restaurants and delis may help prevent many of the foodborne illness outbreaks reported each year in the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers identified gaps in the education of restaurant workers as well as public health surveillance, two critical tools necessary in preventing a very common and costly public health problem.

The research identifies food preparation and handling practices, worker health policies, and hand-washing practices among the underlying environmental factors that often are not reported during foodborne outbreaks, even though more than half of all the foodborne outbreaks that are reported each year are associated with restaurants or delis. Forty-eight million people become ill and 3,000 die in the United States.

Why Are Jerky Treats Making Pets Sick?

November 7, 2013 Comments off

Why Are Jerky Treats Making Pets Sick?</strong>
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

If you have a dog or cat that became ill after eating jerky pet treats, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would like to hear from you or your veterinarian.

The agency has repeatedly issued alerts to consumers about reports it has received concerning jerky pet treat-related illnesses involving 3,600 dogs and 10 cats in the U.S. since 2007. Approximately 580 of those pets have died.

To date, FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has conducted more than 1,200 tests, visited jerky pet treat manufacturers in China and collaborated with colleagues in academia, industry, state labs and foreign governments. Yet the exact cause of the illnesses remains elusive.

Risk Profile: Pathogen and Filth in Spices

October 31, 2013 Comments off

Risk Profile: Pathogen and Filth in Spices
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

In light of new evidence calling into question the effectiveness of current control measures to reduce or prevent illness from consumption of spices in the United States, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) developed a risk profile on pathogens and filth in spices.

The objectives of the risk profile were to

  1. describe the nature and extent of the public health risk posed by consumption of spices in the United States by identifying the most commonly occurring microbial hazards and filth in spice;
  2. describe and evaluate current mitigation and control options designed to reduce the public health risk posed by consumption of contaminated spices in the United States;
  3. identify potential additional mitigation and control options; and
  4. identify critical data gaps and research needs.

The risk profile for pathogens and filth in spices provides information for FDA to use in the development of plans to reduce or prevent illness from spices contaminated by microbial pathogens and/or filth.

FDA issues proposed rule to help ensure the safety of food for animals

October 28, 2013 Comments off

FDA issues proposed rule to help ensure the safety of food for animals
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today issued a proposed rule under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) aimed at improving the safety of food for animals. This proposed regulation would help prevent foodborne illness in both animals and people and is open for public comments for 120 days. The proposal is part of the Food Safety Modernization Act’s larger effort to modernize the food safety system for the 21st century and focus public and private efforts on preventing food safety problems, rather than relying primarily on responding to problems after the fact.

The proposed rule would require makers of animal feed and pet food to be sold in the U.S.to develop a formal plan and put into place procedures to prevent foodborne illness. The rule would also require them to have plans for correcting any problems that arise. The proposed rule would also require animal food facilities to, for the first time, follow proposed current good manufacturing practices that address areas such as sanitation.

Making Sense of Recent Cost-of-Foodborne-Illness Estimates

October 21, 2013 Comments off

Making Sense of Recent Cost-of-Foodborne-Illness Estimates
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

Three recent studies provide cost-of-foodborne-illness estimates ranging from $14.1 billion to $152 billion. This report shows that differences in these estimates are largely due to the number of diseases considered, the valuation methods used, and uncertainty about disease incidence estimates.

Predicting the public health benefit of vaccinating cattle against Escherichia coli O157

September 18, 2013 Comments off

Predicting the public health benefit of vaccinating cattle against Escherichia coli O157
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Identifying the major sources of risk in disease transmission is key to designing effective controls. However, understanding of transmission dynamics across species boundaries is typically poor, making the design and evaluation of controls particularly challenging for zoonotic pathogens. One such global pathogen is Escherichia coli O157, which causes a serious and sometimes fatal gastrointestinal illness. Cattle are the main reservoir for E. coli O157, and vaccines for cattle now exist. However, adoption of vaccines is being delayed by conflicting responsibilities of veterinary and public health agencies, economic drivers, and because clinical trials cannot easily test interventions across species boundaries, lack of information on the public health benefits. Here, we examine transmission risk across the cattle–human species boundary and show three key results. First, supershedding of the pathogen by cattle is associated with the genetic marker stx2. Second, by quantifying the link between shedding density in cattle and human risk, we show that only the relatively rare supershedding events contribute significantly to human risk. Third, we show that this finding has profound consequences for the public health benefits of the cattle vaccine. A naïve evaluation based on efficacy in cattle would suggest a 50% reduction in risk; however, because the vaccine targets the major source of human risk, we predict a reduction in human cases of nearly 85%. By accounting for nonlinearities in transmission across the human–animal interface, we show that adoption of these vaccines by the livestock industry could prevent substantial numbers of human E. coli O157 cases.

New From the GAO

September 4, 2013 Comments off

New GAO Report
Source: Government Accountability Office

 

Food Safety: More Disclosure and Data Needed to Clarify Impact of Changes to Poultry and Hog Inspections. GAO-13-775, August 22.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-775
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657145.pdf

Salmonella Enteritidis Infections Associated with Foods Purchased from Mobile Lunch Trucks — Alberta, Canada, October 2010–February 2011

July 18, 2013 Comments off

Salmonella Enteritidis Infections Associated with Foods Purchased from Mobile Lunch Trucks — Alberta, Canada, October 2010–February 2011
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

During October 2010–February 2011, an outbreak of 91 Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) infections in Alberta, Canada, was investigated by a local public health department (Alberta Health Services, Calgary Zone). Index cases initially were linked through a common history of consumption of food purchased from mobile food-vending vehicles (lunch trucks) operating at worksites in Alberta. Further investigation implicated one catering company that supplied items for the lunch trucks and other vendors. In 85 cases, patients reported consumption of food prepared by the catering company in the 7 days before illness. Six patients were employees of the catering company, and two food samples collected from the catering company were positive for SE. Foods likely were contaminated directly or indirectly through the use of illegally sourced, SE-contaminated eggs at the implicated catering facility and by catering employees who were infected with SE. Public health interventions put into place to control the outbreak included screening employees for Salmonella, excluding those infected from food-handling duties, and training employees in safe food-handling procedures. No further outbreak cases were identified after full implementation of the interventions. This investigation highlights the potential for lunch trucks to be a source of foodborne illness and the need for robust regulatory compliance monitoring of lunch trucks and their food suppliers.

Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks — United States, 1998–2008

July 2, 2013 Comments off

Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks — United States, 1998–2008
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

Problem/Condition: Foodborne diseases cause an estimated 48 million illnesses each year in the United States, including 9.4 million caused by known pathogens. Foodborne disease outbreak surveillance provides valuable insights into the agents and foods that cause illness and the settings in which transmission occurs. CDC maintains a surveillance program for collection and periodic reporting of data on the occurrence and causes of foodborne disease outbreaks in the United States. This surveillance system is the primary source of national data describing the numbers of illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths; etiologic agents; implicated foods; contributing factors; and settings of food preparation and consumption associated with recognized foodborne disease outbreaks in the United States.

Reporting Period: 1998–2008.

Description of the System: The Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System collects data on foodborne disease outbreaks, defined as the occurrence of two or more cases of a similar illness resulting from the ingestion of a common food. Public health agencies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and Freely Associated States have primary responsibility for identifying and investigating outbreaks and use a standard form to report outbreaks voluntarily to CDC. During 1998–2008, reporting was made through the electronic Foodborne Outbreak Reporting System (eFORS).

Results: During 1998–2008, CDC received reports of 13,405 foodborne disease outbreaks, which resulted in 273,120 reported cases of illness, 9,109 hospitalizations, and 200 deaths. Of the 7,998 outbreaks with a known etiology, 3,633 (45%) were caused by viruses, 3,613 (45%) were caused by bacteria, 685 (5%) were caused by chemical and toxic agents, and 67 (1%) were caused by parasites. Among the 7,724 (58%) outbreaks with an implicated food or contaminated ingredient reported, 3,264 (42%) could be assigned to one of 17 predefined commodity categories: fish, crustaceans, mollusks, dairy, eggs, beef, game, pork, poultry, grains/beans, oils/sugars, fruits/nuts, fungi, leafy vegetables, root vegetables, sprouts, and vegetables from a vine or stalk. The commodities implicated most commonly were poultry (18.9%; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 17.4–20.3) and fish (18.6%; CI = 17.2–20), followed by beef (11.9%; CI = 10.8–13.1). The pathogen-commodity pairs most commonly responsible for outbreaks were scombroid toxin/histamine and fish (317 outbreaks), ciguatoxin and fish (172 outbreaks), Salmonella and poultry (145 outbreaks), and norovirus and leafy vegetables (141 outbreaks). The pathogen-commodity pairs most commonly responsible for outbreak-related illnesses were norovirus and leafy vegetables (4,011 illnesses), Clostridium perfringens and poultry (3,452 illnesses), Salmonella and vine-stalk vegetables (3,216 illnesses), and Clostridium perfringens and beef (2,963 illnesses). Compared with the first 2 years of the study (1998–1999), the percentage of outbreaks associated with leafy vegetables and dairy increased substantially during 2006–2008, while the percentage of outbreaks associated with eggs decreased.

Interpretation: Outbreak reporting rates and implicated foods varied by state and year, respectively; analysis of surveillance data for this 11-year period provides important information regarding changes in sources of illness over time. A substantial percentage of foodborne disease outbreaks were associated with poultry, fish, and beef, whereas many outbreak-related illnesses were associated with poultry, leafy vegetables, beef, and fruits/nuts. The percentage of outbreaks associated with leafy vegetables and dairy increased during the surveillance period, while the percentage associated with eggs decreased.

Public Health Actions: Outbreak surveillance data highlight the etiologic agents, foods, and settings involved most often in foodborne disease outbreaks and can help to identify food commodities and preparation settings in which interventions might be most effective. Analysis of data collected over several years of surveillance provides a means to assess changes in the food commodities associated most frequently with outbreaks that might occur following improvements in food safety or changes in consumption patterns or food preparation practices. Prevention of foodborne disease depends on targeted interventions at appropriate points from food production to food preparation. Efforts to reduce foodborne illness should focus on the pathogens and food commodities causing the most outbreaks and outbreak-associated illnesses, including beef, poultry, fish, and produce.

Vital Signs: Listeria Illnesses, Deaths, and Outbreaks — United States, 2009–2011

June 10, 2013 Comments off

Vital Signs: Listeria Illnesses, Deaths, and Outbreaks — United States, 2009–2011

Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

Background: Older adults, pregnant women, and persons with immunocompromising conditions are at higher risk than others for invasive Listeria monocytogenes infection (listeriosis), a rare and preventable foodborne illness that can cause bacteremia, meningitis, fetal loss, and death.

Methods: This report summarizes data on 2009–2011 listeriosis cases and outbreaks reported to U.S. surveillance systems. The Listeria Initiative and PulseNet conduct nationwide surveillance to rapidly detect and respond to outbreaks, the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) conducts active, sentinel population–based surveillance to track incidence trends, and the Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System (FDOSS) receives reports of investigated outbreaks to track foods and settings associated with outbreaks.

Results: Nationwide, 1,651 cases of listeriosis occurring during 2009–2011 were reported. The case-fatality rate was 21%. Most cases occurred among adults aged ≥65 years (950 [58%]), and 14% (227) were pregnancy-associated. At least 74% of nonpregnant patients aged <65 years had an immunocompromising condition, most commonly immunosuppressive therapy or malignancy. The average annual incidence was 0.29 cases per 100,000 population. Compared with the overall population, incidence was markedly higher among adults aged ≥65 years (1.3; relative rate [RR]: 4.4) and pregnant women (3.0; RR: 10.1). Twelve reported outbreaks affected 224 patients in 38 states. Five outbreak investigations implicated soft cheeses made from pasteurized milk that were likely contaminated during cheese-making (four implicated Mexican-style cheese, and one implicated two other types of cheese). Two outbreaks were linked to raw produce.

Conclusions: Almost all listeriosis occurs in persons in higher-risk groups. Soft cheeses were prominent vehicles, but other foods also caused recent outbreaks. Prevention targeting higher-risk groups and control of Listeria monocytogenes contamination in foods implicated by outbreak investigations will have the greatest impact on reducing the burden of listeriosis.

Implications for Public Health Practice: Careful attention to food safety is especially important to protect vulnerable populations. Surveillance for foodborne infections like listeriosis identifies food safety gaps that can be addressed by industry, regulatory authorities, food preparers, and consumers.

FDA releases new tool to help prevent intentional food contamination

May 28, 2013 Comments off

FDA releases new tool to help prevent intentional food contamination
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released a new tool to help bolster the food industry’s defense measures against an act of intentional food contamination. The Food Defense Plan Builder is a comprehensive, easy-to-use software program designed to help owners and operators of food facilities—ranging from primary production and manufacturing to retail and transportation—develop customized plans to minimize the risk of intentional contamination at their individual food facilities.

The FDA does not require food facilities to implement food defense plans, but many facilities have voluntarily put such plans into place to safeguard their products.

Cases of intentional contamination are infrequent but can entail serious adverse public health consequences. For example, in 2009, more than 40 people in Kansas became ill after disgruntled restaurant employees intentionally contaminated salsa with a pesticide. In 1996, 12 lab workers at a Texas medical facility became ill after eating pastries that were intentionally contaminated with a virulent strain of Shigellabacteria.

The Food Defense Plan Builder is FDA’s latest effort to help owners and operators of food facilities take appropriate action to defend the food supply. In the years following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the FDA released a number of food defense tools and resources to aid the U.S. food industry, federal partners, state and local regulators, and the international community in protecting the food supply against biological, chemical and radiological attack.

The Food Defense Plan Builder guides users through a series of substantive questions about the user’s food facility and the food manufactured, processed, packed or held there to develop a comprehensive food defense plan for the facility, which includes a vulnerability assessment, broad and focused mitigation strategies, and an action plan.

Incidence and Trends of Infection with Pathogens Transmitted Commonly Through Food — Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, 10 U.S. Sites, 1996–2012

April 19, 2013 Comments off

Incidence and Trends of Infection with Pathogens Transmitted Commonly Through Food — Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, 10 U.S. Sites, 1996–2012

Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

Foodborne diseases are an important public health problem in the United States. The Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network* (FoodNet) conducts surveillance in 10 U.S. sites for all laboratory-confirmed infections caused by selected pathogens transmitted commonly through food to quantify them and monitor their incidence. This report summarizes 2012 preliminary surveillance data and describes trends since 1996. A total of 19,531 infections, 4,563 hospitalizations, and 68 deaths associated with foodborne diseases were reported in 2012. For most infections, incidence was highest among children aged <5 years; the percentage of persons hospitalized and the percentage who died were highest among persons aged ≥65 years. In 2012, compared with the 2006–2008 period, the overall incidence of infection† was unchanged, and the estimated incidence of infections caused by Campylobacter and Vibrio increased. These findings highlight the need for targeted action to address food safety gaps.

FoodNet conducts active, population-based surveillance for laboratory-confirmed infections caused by Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Listeria, Salmonella, Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157 and non-O157, Shigella, Vibrio, and Yersinia in 10 sites covering 15% of the U.S. population (48 million persons in 2011).§ FoodNet is a collaboration among CDC, 10 state health departments, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Hospitalizations occurring within 7 days of specimen collection date are recorded, as is the patient’s vital status at hospital discharge, or at 7 days after the specimen collection date if the patient was not hospitalized. All hospitalizations and deaths that occurred within a 7-day window are attributed to the infection. Surveillance for physician-diagnosed postdiarrheal hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication of STEC infection characterized by renal failure, is conducted through a network of nephrologists and infection preventionists and by hospital discharge data review. This report includes 2011 HUS data for persons aged <18 years.

Incidence was calculated by dividing the number of laboratory-confirmed infections in 2012 by U.S. Census estimates of the surveillance population area for 2011.¶ A negative binomial model with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) was used to estimate changes in incidence from 2006–2008 to 2012 and from 1996–1998 to 2012 (1). The overall incidence of infection with six key pathogens for which >50% of illnesses are estimated to be foodborne (Campylobacter, Listeria, Salmonella, STEC O157, Vibrio, and Yersinia) was calculated (2). Trends were not assessed for Cyclospora because data were sparse, or for STEC non-O157 because of changes in diagnostic practices. For HUS, changes in incidence from 2006–2008 to 2011 were estimated.

Bacterial Communities Associated with the Surfaces of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

April 3, 2013 Comments off

Bacterial Communities Associated with the Surfaces of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Source: PLoS ONE

Fresh fruits and vegetables can harbor large and diverse populations of bacteria. However, most of the work on produce-associated bacteria has focused on a relatively small number of pathogenic bacteria and, as a result, we know far less about the overall diversity and composition of those bacterial communities found on produce and how the structure of these communities varies across produce types. Moreover, we lack a comprehensive view of the potential effects of differing farming practices on the bacterial communities to which consumers are exposed. We addressed these knowledge gaps by assessing bacterial community structure on conventional and organic analogs of eleven store-bought produce types using a culture-independent approach, 16 S rRNA gene pyrosequencing. Our results demonstrated that the fruits and vegetables harbored diverse bacterial communities, and the communities on each produce type were significantly distinct from one another. However, certain produce types (i.e., sprouts, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries) tended to share more similar communities as they all had high relative abundances of taxa belonging to the family Enterobacteriaceae when compared to the other produce types (i.e., apples, peaches, grapes, and mushrooms) which were dominated by taxa belonging to the Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, and Proteobacteria phyla. Although potentially driven by factors other than farming practice, we also observed significant differences in community composition between conventional and organic analogs within produce types. These differences were often attributable to distinctions in the relative abundances of Enterobacteriaceae taxa, which were generally less abundant in organically-grown produce. Taken together, our results suggest that humans are exposed to substantially different bacteria depending on the types of fresh produce they consume with differences between conventionally and organically farmed varieties contributing to this variation.

When Good Food Goes Bad: Strengthening the US Response to Foodborne Disease Outbreaks

March 11, 2013 Comments off

When Good Food Goes Bad: Strengthening the US Response to Foodborne Disease Outbreaks

Source: University of Pittsburgh Center for Biosecurity

Foodborne illness sickens or kills an extraordinary number of people each year. It also has great economic costs. Last year, an outbreak linked to contaminated cantaloupe in the United States sickened 146 and killed 30. In 2011, another outbreak in Germany that was eventually linked to contaminated sprouts, sickened more than 4,000 and caused at least 50 deaths. Foodborne disease outbreak response is a critical part of reducing the consequences of outbreaks that will occur in the future. If public health officials can more quickly recognize when a foodborne illness outbreak has occurred and identify the food causing the outbreak, lives can be saved and economic losses averted. The lessons learned from outbreak investigations can be used by industry and government to address the underlying causes of contamination that lead to illness, thus making food safer for everyone.

The Center for Biosecurity of UPMC produced this report to catalyze improvements in the country’s ability to respond to large foodborne disease outbreaks. We analyzed the existing data and studies on foodborne illness outbreak response, identified emerging trends, and interviewed dozens of federal and state level officials and experts from industry, professional organizations, academia, and relevant international organizations. The report puts forth a series of recommendations to accelerate and strengthen responses to foodborne illness outbreaks in the US.

Attribution of Foodborne Illnesses, Hospitalizations, and Deaths to Food Commodities by using Outbreak Data, Uni ted States, 1998–2008

February 5, 2013 Comments off

Attribution of Foodborne Illnesses, Hospitalizations, and Deaths to Food Commodities by using Outbreak Data, United States, 1998–2008

Source: Emerging Infectious Diseases (CDC)

Each year, >9 million foodborne illnesses are estimated to be caused by major pathogens acquired in the United States. Preventing these illnesses is challenging because resources are limited and linking individual illnesses to a particular food is rarely possible except during an outbreak. We developed a method of attributing illnesses to food commodities that uses data from outbreaks associated with both simple and complex foods. Using data from outbreak-associated illnesses for 1998–2008, we estimated annual US foodborne illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths attributable to each of 17 food commodities. We attributed 46% of illnesses to produce and found that more deaths were attributed to poultry than to any other commodity. To the extent that these estimates reflect the commodities causing all foodborne illness, they indicate that efforts are particularly needed to prevent contamination of produce and poultry. Methods to incorporate data from other sources are needed to improve attribution estimates for some commodities and agents.

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