Food poisoning cases linked to raw milk and poultry rose in last five years

April 22, 2013

Bacteria commonly linked to raw milk and poultry are causing more food poisonings, health officials said last week.

Cases of campylobacter grew by 14 percent over the past five years, a government study found.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report was based on food-borne infections in only 10 states, covering about 15 percent of the American population. But it is seen as a good indicator of wider trends: CDC refers to it as “the nation’s annual food safety report card.”

Over all, food poisonings held fairly steady in recent years. There were no significant jumps in cases from most other food bugs, including salmonella and E. coli. But campylobacter rose, accounting for more than a third of food poisoning illnesses and about a tenth of the deaths.

Health officials said it’s not clear why campylobacter cases increased, nor which foods were the source of most of the added illnesses.

The study had another piece of bad news: There were jumps in illness caused by a group of bacteria called vibrio, which are associated with shellfish. Fewer than 200 vibrio cases were reported last year, but that’s a 43 percent increase from about five years ago.

The CDC report focused on only nine types of food germs and counted only cases that were lab-confirmed. Investigators tallied about 20,000 such cases and 68 deaths in the 10 states. It compared 2012 statistics to reports in the years 2006 through 2008.

Many illnesses never get reported. CDC estimates that as many as 48 million Americans get sick from contaminated food each year.

Associated Press

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