Balking at Poultry
We all know that foods high in fat and cholesterol put us at increased risk of compromised health over time, but which foods are most likely to put us in the hospital right away? A report recently released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that chicken, turkey, and other poultry products are the leading cause of food-related fatalities in the United States. Over the ten-year period studied, poultry accounted for 19 percent of all food-related deaths. Dairy came in at 10 percent, followed by vine-stalk vegetables, which took the bronze and were responsible for 7 percent of all deaths-by-eating.
This study marked the first time that the CDC specifically looked into which types of foods were most likely to result in death or illness following consumption. Between 1998 and 2008, food-related illnesses were studied and the culprit foods documented. Over the course of the study, contaminated food resulted in an average of 48 million cases of illness each year. Of these 48 million cases, 9.6 million were caused by known pathogens. This study focused on cases when (A), illness was caused by a known pathogen and (B), one of 17 common foods had been consumed prior to illness onset.
Leafy Vegetables and Illness
Poultry products accounted for the greatest number of deaths, at 277 deaths in one year. Most of these deaths occurred in the elderly, young children, or pregnant women. However, leafy vegetables caused the most cases of illness. It’s believed that the majority of disease caused by vegetables were a result of the norovirus, which is a highly contagious pathogen that often ends up on vegetables when those preparing and handling them fail to wash their hands.
Hospitalization Caused by Dairy
Dairy accounted for 16 percent of all hospitalizations between 1998 and 2008, representing the largest number of hospitalizations for any type of food surveyed. The causes behind this high number are thought to be mistakes during the pasteurization process and contamination following pasteurization. Additionally, the sheer quantity of dairy products consumed in the US means that even though the probability of getting sick from dairy may be fairly low, the very high number of people who consume dairy regularly inflates the number of people who will fall ill. It should also be taken into consideration that many people drink raw milk, which is unpasteurized and thus increases the likelihood of harmful bacteria being present.
Although there isn’t any sure-fire way to prevent food contamination, there are easy measures which will reduce the likelihood of food poisoning. Make sure that meat and dairy products remain in sealed containers in the refrigerator when not in use, and wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly prior to consumption.
Justin blogs about healthcare related news is editor for a medical billing company, Quest National Services, maintaining a blog about important healthcare industry news.