"The system needs to be modernized with more emphasis on preventive controls," Acheson conceded.
Part of the problem is that as food supply chains get longer and global distribution networks more complex, there are simply more opportunities for things to go wrong, officials stated. If a manufacturer or distributor has wide reach, a single ingredient can potentially infect large numbers of people.
But proper preparation, handling and cooking on the part of the consumer can greatly lessen the risk of foodborne illness, Tauxe said.
Risk factors for contracting foodborne illness include such things as riding in a shopping cart next to raw meat, visiting or living on a farm, living with reptiles and attending daycare, not to mention undercooking foods.
"Breast-feeding is a protective factor and should be encouraged," Tauxe added.
U.S. government agencies have more on food safety.
SOURCES: April 9, 2009, teleconference with Robert Tauxe, M.D., deputy director, Division of Foodborne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; David Acheson, M.D., associate commissioner for foods, U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and David Goldman, M.D., assistant administrator, USDA Food Safety Inspection Service; April 10, 2009, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
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