On April 28, 2011 the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute released information regarding the top 10 sources of food borne illnesses. The hope is that those in charge of protecting us from such food borne illnesses will use the information to help prevent outbreaks. Unfortunately to date their efforts have not been coordinated and thus are not as effective as they could be.
According to Michael Batz, who is the main author of the report, “Government agencies must work together to effectively target their efforts. If we don’t identify which pairs of foods and microbes present the greatest burden, we’ll waste time and resources and put even more people at risk.”
Currently the top 10 food pathogen combinations are responsible for economic losses of 8 billions dollars annually from lost work days, medical costs, and severe disabilities caused by illness.
Here are some of the highlights pulled directly from the report:
- POULTRY contaminated with Camplylobacter bacteria topped the list, sickening more than 600,000 Americans at a cost of $1.3 billion per year.
- Salmonella in POULTRY also ranks in the Top 10, with $700 million due to costs of illness.
- Salmonella is the leading disease-causing bug overall, causing more than $3 billion in disease burden annually.
- In addition to POULTRY, Salmonella-contaminated PRODUCE, EGGS and multi-ingredient foods all rank in the Top 10.
- Four combinations in the Top 10 – Listeria in deli MEATS and soft CHEESES, and Toxoplasma in PORK and BEEF – pose serious risks to pregnant women and developing fetuses, causing stillbirth or infants born with irreversible mental and physical disabilities.
While a vegan diet is not immune to food poisoning, I found it interesting that 8 out of the 9 foods mentioned were animal based foods with poultry mentioned 3 times…4 if you count eggs. We can drastically reduce our exposure to these food borne illnesses by simply eliminating our consumption of animal based foods.
To read the results of the study directly from the University of Florida, click here.
Salmonella image courtesy of ifood.tv