Why Some Foods Are Riskier Today

Publication: The Wall Street Journal

Author: Laura Landro

02/15/2010 - Within the past few weeks there has been a salmonella outbreak linked to a sausage and salami facility in Rhode Island, a recall of chewy chocolate chip granola bars in California also potentially contaminated with salmonella and a recall of cheese in Washington state potentially contaminated with listeria monocytogenes, which can cause serious, sometimes fatal, infections. While the sausage contamination resulted in 225 people becoming ill in 44 states, the other two recalls didn't involve any illnesses. Without stricter food-safety enforcement, though, consumers may not be so lucky.

A growing number of Americans have been sickened by foodborne illness—in many cases from food they never considered risky. While most of the 76 million reported foodborne illnesses a year are mild, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths are related to tainted food each year. Foodborne illness outbreaks appear to be increasing, the Food and Drug Administration says.

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The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide advice for consumers on their Web sites about how to avoid foodborne illness and prepare food safely. MakeOurFoodsSafe.org, a coalition of public health organizations, consumer organizations, and groups representing the families of victims of foodborne illness includes members such as Safe Tables Our Priority, which allows consumers to sign up for email alerts on food outbreaks.

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"We have to provide the FDA with the tools it needs to prevent problems" says Sandra Eskin, director of the food safety campaign at the nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts. "Without a modernized law there is only so much we can do as consumers to protect ourselves."

Read the full article Why Some Foods Are Riskier Today on the Wall Street Journal's Web site.

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