HEALTH

Top 10 Food-Poisoning Culprits

Did you know that 1 in 6 Americans gets sick every year from eating food contaminated with pathogens: Bacteria, viruses or parasites? It’s a serious health problem that sends tens of thousands of people to the hospital every year. So what’s the biggest culprit? Researchers at the University of Florida Emerging Pathogens Institute have compiled a list of the top 10 combinations of food and disease that cause illness. Take a look…

Poultry raw chicken

1. Poultry contaminated with Campylobacter 

According to the report, this dangerous combo of bacteria-laced meat sickens more than 600,000 Americans resulting in nearly 7,000 hospitalizations every year. The researchers said infections with these microorganisms “can cause acute illness such as vomiting, but also can lead to hospitalization or death." 

In the report, the researchers question "whether new safety standards announced by the USDA for young chickens and turkeys are sufficient, and recommend evaluating and tightening these standards over time."

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2. Toxoplasma in Pork

Pork contaminated with this parasite sickens more than 35,000 Americans and puts nearly 2,000 in the hospital each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Toxoplasmosis is considered to be a leading cause of death attributed to foodborne illness in the United States. More than 60 million men, women, and children in the U.S. carry the Toxoplasma parasite, but very few have symptoms because the immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness.”

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Deli Meats

3. Listeria in Deli Meats

There’s a reason why they tell pregnant women not to eat deli meats. Listeria causes nearly 600 hospitalizations each year and more than 100 deaths. Those most at risk are pregnant women and unborn fetuses. It also affects older adults and adults with weakened immune systems. The serious infection, called Listeriosis, is usually caused by eating foods contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogene.

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4. Salmonella in Poultry

Poultry is back on the list again – and for good reason. According to the report, poultry causes more foodborne disease that any other type of food and Salmonella is one of the reasons. It is the leading foodborne pathogen in the country, causing the largest number of deaths and hospitalizations. This combo costs the U.S. $700 million a year.

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Dairy Products

5. Listeria and Dairy Products

Rounding out the top five is Listeria infecting dairy products such as soft cheeses. This also comes with a hefty price tag of $700 million a year in relation to things like lost days of work, high cost of medical care, premature death and long-term disability.

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6 & 7 Salmonella in Complex Foods and the Norovirus in Complex Foods

Coming in at No. 6 and 7 on the list are Salmonella in multi-ingredient foods (like this Caesar salad) and the norovirus, which is largely associated with multi-ingredient items that can become infected when handled by service industry workers. Remember, the norovirus is the same bug that has led to outbreaks in cruise ships.

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8. Salmonella in Produce

Salmonella is back again – this time in produce. Of course, this comes as no surprise – just think of recent outbreaks involving eggs, alfalfa sprouts and tomatoes.

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Raw Beef

9. Toxoplasma in Beef

Toxoplasma is also an issue with it comes to beef. People can become sick with this parasite after eating undercooked meat from infected animals. Again, this parasite can be very harmful to pregnant women, so make sure you steer clear of that steak tartare if you're expecting.

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10. Salmonella in Eggs

Who could forget the Salmonella outbreak of 2010 linked to two Iowa farms. The outbreak sickened more than a 1,000 people and resulted in the recall of a half-billion eggs. Again, Salmonella is one of the biggest culprits.

In the end, the report found that 14 pathogens in foods cost the U.S. $14 billion a year in “human disease, resulting in large number of deaths, hospitalizations and long-term complications. More than 90 percent of the health burden can be traced to five pathogens: Salmonella, Camplylobacter, Listeria monocytogenes, Toxoplasma gondii and norovirus. But the problem is, you never know where they'll show up next.

Click here for more information on the report.

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Top 10 Food-Poisoning Culprits

Did you know that 1 in 6 Americans gets sick every year from eating food contaminated with pathogens: Bacteria, viruses or parasites? It’s a serious health problem that sends tens of thousands of people to the hospital every year. So what’s the biggest culprit? Researchers at the University of Florida Emerging Pathogens Institute have compiled a list of the top 10 combinations of food and disease that cause illness. Take a look…

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