If you want to reduce your chances of foodborne illness, go veggie. That's one take away from a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report linking types of food to illness outbreaks in the U.S. Of course, you can't blame the poultry or beef. And even vegetables can make you sick if they're not properly handled or prepared. Maybe another take away is the need for stricter enforcement of health codes. The CDC report says 1,097 foodborne disease outbreaks were reported in 2007, resulting in 21,244 illnesses and 18 deaths. In 235 outbreaks where only one food commodity was identified, the largest number of illnesses, 691, were linked to poultry. A total of 667 were linked to beef. But leafy vegetables weren't far behind, with 590 illnesses.
Those are only some of the highlights—ones that may make it easier to plan your next meal. Keep it fresh. The most common foods associated with multi-state salmonella outbreaks included many commercially processed varieties of foods, like frozen pot pies, vegetable snacks, frozen pepperoni pizzas and canned hot dog chili sauce.
The CDC reports says norovirus was the most frequently confirmed foodborne agent, followed by salmonella. Norovirus outbreaks are most often linked to food handlers who don't wash their hands after using the toilet. Salmonella's link: To foods contaminated with animal feces. Yummy.
How to reduce foodborne illness and associated costs, which top $152 billion annually in the U.S.? Thorough cooking kills salmonella, and foods should be cleaned, separated, cooked and chilled appropriately, the CDC says.
Maybe the message here is one for (current and future) locavores. Seek out food that's sustainably produced, grown and distributed, and you'll be better off.