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Foodborne pathogens cause tens of millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths in the United States every year, according to estimates by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that 2% to 3% of all acute cases develop complications and long-term illnesses.
Today, more than 23 million children and adolescents in the United States — nearly one in three young people — are either obese or overweight. This increasing public health risk is caused, in part, by the poor nutritional quality of food served in schools across the nation.
Additionally, a wide range of substances — both natural and synthetic— are added to food for a variety of reasons, such as to enhance flavor and appearance, ensure desirable texture or delay spoilage. While most of the more than 10,000 preservatives, food dyes, emulsifiers, flavors and other ingredients in the food supply are thought to be harmless, some may not be.
The Pew Health Group addresses a variety of threats to the nation’s food supply and to the healthfulness of what kids are eating at school. Our experts advocate for policies that will limit the impact of foodborne illnesses, improve the nutritional quality and safety of food sold and served in U.S. schools and assess the risks associated with chemical additives in food.
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