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Food Poisoning Hits 1 in 6 Americans Each Year: CDC
Date:12/15/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Each year in the United States some 48 million people, or one in every six Americans, are sickened by the food they eat, according to two federal health reports issued Wednesday.

Of those who get sick, about 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die annually, and many of the deaths and hospitalizations are due to salmonella, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. It was salmonella that led to the massive recall earlier this year of millions of suspect eggs.

The number of people reported as affected by foodborne illness has dipped from previous years, the CDC said, but that's mostly due to improvement in the quality and quantity of the data used and new methods used to estimate foodborne disease.

The bottom line is that "these illnesses are associated with billions in health care costs, and have a substantial human cost in severe illnesses and, in some cases, long-term health effects," Dr. Chris Braden, acting director of CDC's Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases said during a morning press conference.

"These are preventable diseases," he said. "For many of these diseases we know what interventions work to prevent them and we need to do more to lower the impact of these diseases in the United States."

Of the 48 million annual illnesses, 9.4 million result from 31 known foodborne pathogens. The other 38 million illnesses are from unspecified pathogens, which include known diseases, but without enough data for accurate estimates. These include pathogens not yet known to cause foodborne illness and pathogens not yet discovered, Braden said.

"If we could reduce foodborne illnesses by just 1 percent we could keep 500,000 people each year from getting sick from the foods that they eat," he noted.

Other key findings in the two reports:

  • Salmonella was respons
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