May 12, 2009

Incidence of foodborne illness indicates need for reform

Source of Article:


Is it becoming more dangerous to eat? That's the question posed by The New York Times in an effort to reconcile reports of foodborne illness outbreaks and food recalls with the safety of the food supply system.

The answer, according to the newspaper, is not definitive. While there have been some advances in the way outbreaks are tracked and identified, people are still getting sick. "... The big recalls and outbreaks of recent years, like the discoveries of the industrial chemical melamine in infant formula and salmonella in peanut butter, are still worrisome to many health experts and safety advocates," the Times reports.

It's hard to disagree. Recent recalls, including almost 4,000 products associated with peanuts processed at a Georgia plant, underscore the need for more government oversight and funding, measures that Consumers Union supports.

About 76 million people in the U.S. suffer foodborne illnesses each year, 300,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 die, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The incidence of the most common foodborne illnesses has changed very little over the past three years, according to the CDC.

Trying to reverse that trend, Consumers Union is urging Congress to pass stronger food safety legislation.  For more information, go to CU's website,



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