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Food Poisoning on the Rise: Salmonella blamed

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By Admin on June 08, 2011 6:47 AM

The U.S. saw a rise in food poisoning cases last year, and the main culprit was salmonella.

The latest figures from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that more than 19,000 people in 10 states fell ill after eating contaminated food last year, compared with 17,500 the year before. Salmonella accounted for more than 8,000 of those illnesses and nearly 30 deaths.

"Salmonella is the single most important food-borne disease right now," Dr. Thomas Frieden, a CDC director, told The Oregonian. "Prevention will require action from the farm to the table." 

The 10 states reporting to the CDC are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Tennessee.

Salmonella infections have not decreased over the past 15 years. They've risen since 2009. There are more than 2,500 strains of the bacteria, which is found in a wide range of food, from poultry and eggs to pork, beef, vegetables and nuts. 

"Salmonella is a big challenge because it's spread through so many foods," said Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods at the Food and Drug Administration

Taylor said rules being enacted through the Food Safety Modernization Act, which went into effect in January, should help reduce illness. 

The 10 states that report to the CDC marked a drop in infections of E. coli O157:H7 last year. But there could be a rise in infections caused by other toxic strains that many labs do not tract because of the cost of adding the testing kit. 

The outbreak in Germany, which so far has sickened more than 2,400 and killed 24, was traced to a mutant E. coli strain that has rarely been seen worldwide and has never been reported in the United States. 

The CDC does not expect the outbreak to jump to the United States but highly toxic E. coli strains could end up here, epidemiologists say.

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