Rates of food borne illnesses – also known as “food poisoning” are on the rise, according to a new report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The report compared rates of food borne infections from 2012 to rates from the period spanning 2006-2008 and found that the prevalence of infections from bacteria called Campylobacter and Vibrio increased.
Additionally, they found that rates of infections from Cryptosporidium, Listeria, Salmonella, Shigella, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157, and Yersinia remained the same.
Campylbacter is associated with several kinds of food including poultry produce, raw milk and contaminated water, illness from campylbacter infection has increased by 14%. Vibrio rose 43% and is associated with raw shellfish.
Campylbacter can cause the following complications that last about a week:
Vibrio, on the other hand, can cause serious, life-threatening infection, even more so in people who have liver disease.
CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. explained:
“The U.S. food supply remains one of the safest in the world. However, some foodborne diseases continue to pose a challenge. We have the ability, through investments in emerging technologies, to identify outbreaks even more quickly and implement interventions even faster to protect people from the dangers posed by contaminated food.”
Progress has been seen recently in decreasing infections from a harmful strand of E. coli, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O157, however, rates of it went back up in 2012. FoodNet reported that in 2012 there were 19,531 illnesses, 4,563 hospitalizations, and 68 deaths from nine different germs spread among foods.
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) put into action new and improved industry performance guidelines for campylobacter and salmonella to reduce the prevalence of these pathogens in broiler turkeys and chickens.
USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen, M.D., said:
“The performance standards FSIS implemented are an important consumer protection measure. These standards are at the core of USDA’s mission. While tough, they are achievable and a critical tool in our effort to drive down illnesses from these pathogens in Americans each year.”
The FDA is working closely with its partners to examine the cause of the rise in vibrio. Additionally, the Agency is enacting the Food Safety Modernization Act.
Michael Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine at FDA. said, “New prevention-based rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act will help to reduce foodborne illness in general and new enforcement authorities allow us to take action to keep harmful foods out of the marketplace.”
People who want to decreased their risk of foodborne illnesses should always treat raw chicken and other meat as if they were tainted with bacteria that may cause illness, and should not let these foods cross-contaminate other foods or cooking surfaces.
Make sure you cook chicken and other meat thoroughly. Avoid consuming unpasteurized milk and unpasteurized soft cheeses. Also, it is advisable to thoroughly cook seafood.
High-risk individuals such as pregnant women or people with weakened immune systems should not eat raw or partially cooked seafood.
Written by Kelly Fitzgerald