New report on the long-term effects of food poisoning
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The Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention just released a report entitled “Health Outcomes of Selected Foodborne Pathogens (PDF).” It details the known health effects of the five most common foodborne pathogens.
Foodborne disease is a serious public health issue that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), causes tens of millions of acute illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands of deaths each year in the United States. While the severity of acute foodborne disease varies greatly, depending on the pathogen and the vulnerability of the person infected, the impact of foodborne illness on children, as well as for the elderly and immune- suppressed (e.g., pregnant women, people undergoing chemotherapy, organ-transplant recipients, HIV/AIDS patients), is more likely to be serious and/or long-lasting.
The primary source of these pathogens is animal agriculture: meat, egg, and dairy production. In the small percentage of cases where vegetables were the source, the pathogens likely entered the food supply via contamination from animals. Any serious work to reduce the numbers of people affected by food poisoning is going to have to think hard about reforming our agricultural system, reducing the number of animals that are farmed, and encouraging a drastic reduction in meat consumption.