Originally published March 31 2012
Foodborne disease outbreaks linked to imported foods on the rise
by Jonathan Benson, staff writer
(NaturalNews) The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says foodborne illness outbreaks are on the rise among imported foods, with nearly half of these outbreaks originating in foods sourced from Asian countries. According to a CDC report recently presented at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta, Ga., there were 39 reported outbreaks accounting for 2,348 illnesses caused by imported foods consumed in the U.S. between 2005 and 2010, a figure indicative of a substantial uptick.
Among these reported illnesses, which are likely far lower than the actual number of foodborne illnesses caused during this period, nearly half of them occurred between 2009 and 2010. Fish and spices were reportedly the top two culprits in the outbreaks, with fresh and dried peppers representing more than 80 percent of outbreaks within the spices category.
"As our food supply becomes more global, people are eating foods from all over the world, potentially exposing them to germs from all corners of the world, too," said Hannah Gould, Ph.D., an epidemiologist from the CDC's Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases, and author of the report. "We saw an increased number of outbreaks due to imported foods during recent years, and more types of foods from more countries causing outbreaks."
Between 1998 and 2007, food imports into the U.S. nearly doubled, jumping from $41 billion to $78 billion. Today, about 15 percent of all food eaten in the U.S. comes from other countries, which includes as much as 60 percent of fresh produce being imported during certain times of the year, and as much as 85 percent of seafood being imported.
According to the CDC's Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System, there were more than 1,000 reported illness outbreaks in 2008 alone from both domestic and imported foods, which resulted in more than 23,000 reported cases of illness. Of this, there were 1,276 reported hospitalizations, and 22 reported deaths (http://www.cdc.gov/Features/dsFoodborneOutbreaks/).
Newer CDC statistics from 2011 estimate that 48 million people, or one in six, get sick every year as a result of foodborne illness. Of this, 128,000 people are hospitalized, and roughly 3,000 end up dying (http://www.cdc.gov/Features/dsFoodborneEstimates/).
On the other hand, there have been only 54 reported illnesses associated with raw milk consumption over the 33-year period between 1973 and 2005, and no deaths. And yet the CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and others have adopted a biased and unsubstantiated vendetta against raw milk as if it is a primary food safety concern, when in reality, it constitutes a negligible health risk, at best (http://simplegoodandtasty.com).
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