Each year, one in six people in the United States get sick due to contaminated food. According to a new federal report, most deaths occur when this happens on a bigger scale – like multistate outbreaks of foodborne illness.
Between 2010 and 2014, of all the foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States, only three percent were multistate outbreaks – meaning that they occurred in multiple states at the same time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that multistate outbreaks accounted for 56 percent of all the deaths.
Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that more lethal bacteria are associated with the multistate outbreaks, which is why the highest proportion of death comes from these outbreaks.
The new report shows that 91 of the bacteria involved in the outbreaks belong to the following main groups: Listeria, E. coli, and Salmonella.
“Multistate foodborne disease outbreaks are the most deadly type of foodborne outbreak, despite accounting for only a small portion of reported outbreaks in the United States,” Dr. Frieden stated.
The most recent multistate foodborne illness outbreak occurred because of E. coli contaminated food from a chain of restaurants specialising in tacos and Mission burritos called Chipotle Mexican Grill.
In Portland, Oregon and in Seattle more than forty restaurants are closed. In the meantime, the authorities are investigating the case. According to the news report, about 22 people have become sick.
Foods like chicken, beef, fruits and vegetables, are more likely to be contaminated by the bacteria. According to Frieden, a Listeria outbreak was traced to Gala and Granny Smith apples in 2015.
A lot of foods are imported to the United States from other countries, making bacterial contamination harder to detect. The foods are usually transported across the country which may lead to multistate outbreaks.
During the study period, the researchers registered 120 cases of multistate foodborne illness outbreaks. There were about 8,000 cases of illness, 1,460 people who were hospitalised, and 66 died, the report stated.
Health officials advise people in the food industry to follow better safety practices to prevent such outbreaks in the future. Scientists are also working on developing innovative methods to detect these outbreaks, such as the DNA-sequencing technology that is able to find germs in both contaminated foods and sick people.
Image Source: timewellness