Rise in foodborne illness

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According to new research from the CDC, rates of foodborne illnesses have increased from the period of 2006-2008 and 2012. Specifically, increases occurred in the prevalence of illness from Campylobacter associated with poultry, raw milk and contaminated water, and Vibrio associated with raw shellfish. Symptoms of illness range from diarrhea, stomach pain and fever to more serious, life-threatening conditions.

However, steps are being taken to reduce incidence of such foodborne illnesses. The US Department of Agriculture s Food Safety and Inspection Services implemented new industry performance guidelines for Campylobacter and Salmonella in 2011, to which Dr. Elisabeth Hagen says, The performance standards FSIS implemented are an important consumer protection measure. These standards are at the core of USDA s mission. While tough, they are achievable and a critical tool in our effort to drive down illnesses from these pathogens in Americans each year.

The FDA is also enacting the Food Safety Modernization Act, which will help to reduce foodborne illness in general and new enforcement authorities allow us to take action to keep harmful foods out of the marketplace, says Michael Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine at the FDA.

And there are some steps consumers can take to minimize risk of foodborne illness. Do not let raw chicken and other meat cross-contaminate other foods and cooking surfaces. Additionally, cook chicken and meat thoroughly, do not consume unpasteurized milk or soft cheese and thoroughly cook seafood.