CDC Study: When Mastication Turns to Emesis0

According to a recent report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year 48 million people in the United States get sick from food-related illness (more than 15% of population). Of that number, 128,000 require hospitalization, and 3,000 die.

In a recent publication appearing in Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC Director Thomas Frieden, M.D, M.P.H., said:

    “We’ve made progress in better understanding the burden of foodborne illness and unfortunately, far too many people continue to get sick from the food they eat. These estimates provide valuable information to help CDC and its partners set priorities and further reduce illnesses from food.”

According to the CDC, of the 48 million illnesses, 9.4 million are caused by 31 known food pathogens. The balance are either from: (1) known pathogens but have minimal data available; (2) pathogens not known to cause illness; or (3) pathogens about which there is no information.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., said:

    “Foodborne illnesses and deaths are preventable, and as such, are unacceptable. We must, and can, do better by intensifying our efforts to implement measures that are prevention-oriented and science-based. We are moving down this path as quickly as possible under current authorities but eagerly await passage of new food safety legislation that would provide us with new and long overdue tools to further modernize our food safety program.”

As to the available information:

  • 28% of deaths and 35% of hospitalizations were caused by salmonella.
  • Salmonella, norovirus, CampylobacterToxoplasmaE.coli O157, Listeria and Clostridium perfringens caused 90% of deaths, hospitalizations and illnesses.
  • Almost 60% of estimated illnesses were caused by norovirus (but a much smaller portion of the severe illnesses).

Christopher Braden, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases, said:

    “People expect food to nourish them, not to harm them. So we need to intensify efforts to decrease the number of illnesses and deaths due to foodborne diseases. We now know more than ever what pathogens are causing the most harm, and we will continue our work to help protect people from these illnesses. Much that remains unknown about how and why people get sick and we are committed to learning more in the future.”

The CDC reminds everyone to use caution when preparing foods. Always be sure to separate meats from other produce, cook meats and poultry to the appropriate temperatures, and refrigerate leftovers immediately. As a general rule, the CDC urges individuals to avoid unpasteurized milk and cheese, as well as raw oysters. [audio:|titles=The Puking Song]

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.