Subjects: Public health
A CDC report says chicken is the most common source of food poisoning in the US, but vegetable eaters had better beware, too.
According to the report, the culprit behind most poultry-related illnesses is Clostridium perfringens, a bacterium that provokes cramping and diarrhea approximately 10 to 12 hours after the fateful swallow.
Claustridia spores can survive cooking, so maintaining poultry meat at low temperatures during processing and storage ends up being the key preventive measure.
Researchers counted leafy vegetables, root vegetables, vegetables from stalks or vines, fungi and sprouts as separate categories. Had all that produce been combined, vegetable-associated outbreaks would have far exceeded those caused by poultry.
Salmonella is the pathogen responsible for most cases of food-borne illnesses associated with vegetables. It has caused national outbreaks from contaminated peanut butter, spinach and tomatoes in the last few years.
Interestingly, viruses—which can end up on food when restaurant workers fail to wash their hands before handling it—topped straight-up food borne illnesses by almost two to one.
These viruses cause most cases of “stomach flu,” a lovely 48-hour run of nausea and vomiting that has nothing to do with the actual flu virus.
“We’re glad that CDC is finally coming out with good attribution data,” Caroline Smith DeWaal told the New York Times. The director of food safety at Science in the Public Interest added, “it shows the need for improvement, not only at FDA but at the USDA’s food safety programs as well.”
The findings were based on an analysis of reports submitted to the CDC by state and local health departments. Unfortunately, most of the roughly 76 million annual cases of food-borne illness are not reported, and most reported cases are not investigated.