23 Food-borne Illness Deaths in 2009, 2010
A separate report on food-borne disease outbreaks in 2009 and 2010 showed a decline in such outbreaks, but CDC epidemiologist Hannah Gould, PhD, says the drop was largely due to a new way of reporting the illnesses that excluded many norovirus cases.
There were 1,527 food-borne illness outbreaks reported to CDC during the two-year period, resulting in nearly 29,500 illnesses, 1,184 hospitalizations, and 23 deaths.
Beef, dairy, fish, and poultry were associated with the largest number of outbreaks, but eggs made more people sick than any other single food.
A large salmonella outbreak in 2010 led to the recall of more than half a billion eggs and sickened about 2,000 people across the country.
Other foods implicated in multi-state outbreaks during the reporting period included alfalfa sprouts, ground turkey, ground beef, unpasteurized cheeses, hazelnuts, and cookie dough.
Raw Milk Outbreaks Increasing
Gould says dairy joined the list of foods that caused the most illness for the first time in years, due to a growing number of outbreaks caused by unpasteurized dairy products.
Sixty percent of states allow the sale of raw milk in some form, according to a 2011 survey by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.
Last year, another group of CDC researchers reported that raw milk is 150 times more likely to cause illness than pasteurized milk.
Contamination with campylobacter bacteria is responsible for most illnesses linked to raw milk and the foods made from it.
Seventeen campylobacter outbreaks that were traced to unpasteurized dairy products were reported in 2009 and 2010.
Gould says food-borne illness is often preventable if people remember to:
- Wash hands frequently when preparing food.
- Separate foods that could spread pathogens.
- Cook foods thoroughly.
- Keep foods that can spoil refrigerated.