If recent headlines are any indication, food-borne illnesses like salmonella are becoming more and more commonplace. Large-scale recalls have plagued Goldfish crackers, salads and wraps from Kroger and Trader Joe's, and romaine lettuce from countless grocery stores this summer alone. Fortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just released a surveillance report analyzing the causes of foodborne disease outbreaks between 2009 and 2015, giving consumers an idea of what foods they should be wary of.
According to the report, the humble chicken is most likely to cause outbreak-related illnesses. As Self reports, the surveillance report considered 5760 outbreaks that caused 100,939 illnesses, 5699 hospitalizations, and 145 deaths in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia during that time period. For reference, the CDC defines an outbreak as two or more cases of similar illness that occurs after people eat a common food. In other words, getting sick from food that was left out on the counter for too long doesn't count.
The report identified three common foods most often involved in outbreaks: fish (17% of all outbreaks), dairy (11%), and chicken (10%). But chicken was most likely to cause an outbreak-related illness at 12% of all cases, followed by pork and seeded vegetables at 10%.
"Foodborne disease outbreaks provide information about the pathogens and foods responsible for illness," reads the report. "Outbreaks caused by Listeria, Salmonella, and STEC are important targets for public health intervention efforts, and improving the safety of chicken, pork, and seeded vegetables should be a priority." In other words, you may want to think twice about topping your salad with chicken at lunch.
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