Subjects: Public health
Tomatoes, leafy greens and berries have all sorts of beneficial effects on health and everybody from your mother to Mehmet Oz says you should eat them regularly. There’s one problem though—these delectables frequently make you sick.
That’s the depressing news from a study conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, whose scientists reviewed FDA data from the past 20 years to identify the foods that were responsible for the greatest numbers of food-borne outbreaks.
In descending order, the top 10 riskiest foods were: leafy greens, eggs, tuna, oysters, potatoes, cheese, ice cream, tomatoes, sprouts and berries.
“These are products that people are eating every day,” Sarah Klein, an attorney for the Center told the Washington Post.
“We need the food industry and the FDA to make sure these products are arriving in our homes and restaurants in a way that’s safe for consumers.”
Bacteria and their byproducts were the main culprits, from spinach laced with E. coli O157:H7 to tuna marinated in scombrotoxin. The unfortunate people who consumed tainted foods suffered a range of symptoms from stomach discomfort to death.
The report did not account for poultry, meat and some egg products since they are regulated by the Department of Agriculture.
Potatoes were the most surprising entry on the list. Since many of the spud-associated outbreaks were traced to restaurants, the offending bacteria might have found their way there from other foods courtesy of food handlers or tainted equipment.
According to the CDC, nearly 25% of Americans are sickened and 5,000 die each year from food borne illnesses.
Last summer, the House passed a bill to increase FDA jurisdiction over the nation’s food producers. The Senate should get around to it this fall.