A newly published report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed that contaminated fruit and vegetables, especially leafy greens, caused almost half (46%) of cases of foodborne illness since 1998.
The study used outbreak data from the period 1998-2008 to estimate the number of cases, hospitalisations and deaths attributable to each of 17 food commodities. The results showed that leafy greens like spinach were responsible for 22% of cases, with dairy products accounting for 14%, fruit and nuts 12% and poultry 10%. By contrast, 43% of all deaths from foodborne disease were associated with meat products, especially poultry, and were mostly caused by Listeria or Salmonella.
The study also estimates that one in six Americans (48 million people) suffer from foodborne illness each year, with 9 million cases being caused by one of the pathogens recorded by CDC surveillance.
The study is published in the on-line journal Emerging Infectious Diseases and can be found in full here.