Commenting on the CDC report, infectious disease expert Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at New York University in New York City, said that "although there has been some progress, foodborne illness is still a major problem."
These infections often spring from livestock, Siegel said, "and we create the problem by the way the animals are bred and fed," he said. "We generate the salmonella problem with the way we raise chickens."
"They are compressed in cages standing in their own poop," Siegel said. "They are raised in squalid conditions that breeds salmonella."
The only way to effectively decrease salmonella infection is to vaccinate chickens against the bacteria and pasteurize eggs, he said.
In addition, cattle are fed grain, which breeds bacteria such as E. coli, he added. On top of that, livestock are often given vast amounts of antibiotics, which can create antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, he said.
Siegel noted that bacterial contamination of produce usually comes from animal waste, which then contaminates water used to irrigate fruits and vegetables.
"It's easy to teach people how to barbecue properly, but how about getting the bugs out of the meat in the first place?" he said.
Until food production practices are improved there will be more outbreaks of foodborne illness, Siegel said. "Outbreaks are inevitable," he said.
For more information on foodborne illness, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Marc Siegel, M.D., associate professor, medicine, New York University, New York City; June 6, 2011, teleconference with: Thomas R. Frieden, M.D.
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