THURSDAY, Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Food poisoning sickens millions of Americans each year, and most outbreaks are caused by salmonella-tainted foods or norovirus, federal health officials report.
Salmonella-contaminated eggs alone accounted for 2,231 illnesses in 2009-2010, according to researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who set out to identify the specific pathogens responsible for widespread foodborne illnesses.
"CDC estimates that one in six Americans get sick from a foodborne illness each year," said lead author L. Hannah Gould, a senior epidemiologist at CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.
More than 1,500 foodborne-disease outbreaks were reported in 2009-2010, involving nearly 29,500 illnesses, 1,200 hospitalizations and 23 deaths, according to the CDC.
Besides salmonella in eggs, common causes of outbreaks included E. coli O157 in beef and Campylobacter in unpasteurized dairy products. Besides salmonella-contaminated eggs, outbreaks were also traced to salmonella in sprouts and vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers, the agency said.
More than 40 outbreaks resulted in product recalls, according to the Jan. 25 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
However, outbreaks account for only 5 percent to 10 percent of foodborne illnesses, Gould said. And not all outbreaks get reported, she noted.
Both salmonella and norovirus, also called cruise-ship flu, cause serious gastrointestinal problems.
Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, said foodborne illness is "epidemic" in the United States. "There is a lack of scrutiny of food products," he said.
Contamination can occur at any step along the food chain, from farm to fork, Gould said.
"Everyone has a role in preventing foodborn
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