Listeria leading cause of foodborne deaths, CDC report says

Listeria leading cause of foodborne deaths, CDC report says
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Multistate outbreaks account for half of all deaths from foodborne diseases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a report released Tuesday.

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The Vital Signs report pointed to salmonella, E. coli and listeria as the leading causes of 120 multistate outbreaks from 2010 to 2014. The outbreaks reportedly accounted for 11 percent of all foodborne outbreak illnesses, 34 percent of hospitalizations and 56 percent of deaths. There were an average of 24 multistate outbreaks each year that involved anywhere from two to 37 states.

“Americans should not have to worry about getting sick from the food they eat,” said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. “Top-notch epidemiology and new gene sequencing tools are helping us quickly track down the source of foodborne outbreaks — and together with our national partners we are working with the food industry to prevent them from happening in the first place.”

The report found that salmonella traced back to eggs, chicken and raw ground tuna accounted for the most illnesses, while listeria caused the most deaths — due largely in part to contaminated cantaloupe in 2011 that killed 33 people.

CDC’s report recommends industries keep detailed records to allow faster tracing of foods from source to destination, by using store loyalty cards to help identify which foods made people sick, and by notifying customers of food recalls. State, local and national health agencies are also advised to work wth industries to better understand how foods are produced and distributed to speed up investigations.