The top five foodborne illness were released today by the University of Florida Emergency Pathogens Institute . Campylobacter, a bacteria found in combination with poultry, tops the list that includes Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Toxoplasma gondii, and Norovirus.
The study found that these five illnesses produce 12.7 billion dollars in economic losses, which takes into account loss of productivity, medical care, and serious complications or chronic disabilities associated with the illness.
In a Michael Batz, head of food safety programs at the institute and lead author of the report warned that “if we don’t identify which pairs of foods and microbes present the greatest burden, we’ll waste time and resources and put even more people at risk.”
There are more than 250 known foodborne diseases. They can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. The combinations refers to the ideal environment for bacteria to grow and thrive. As America’s food industry continues to grow and become increasingly mechanized, the likelihood of catching the diseases before the consumer receives the food is slim.
The Food and Drug Administration under President Obama continues talk tough about increasing efforts to curb the incidents of the foodborne illnesses. Now there are calls that the USDA needs a complete make-over.
In a story published by the Washington Post, more than half of the pathogens are found in meat, which upsets Carol L. Tucker of Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America.
In the desire to get support for modernizing FDA’s food safety laws, I think the discussion slighted the public health dangers associated with meat and poultry,” Tucker-Foreman said.
“By definition, the slaughter of meat and poultry products is always a high risk,” Tucker-Foreman said, “and if you get contamination coming out of the slaughterhouse, you increase the risk it will get through to consumers at the end.”