We love to eat, yet there is an inevitable yuck factor in the food supply chain: poop-contaminated beef or salmonella-tainted cantaloupe or listeria-laced ice cream.
*48 million Americans get sick each year from contaminated food. That’s one in six.
*Of those, 128,000 wind up in the hospital. About 3,000 die.
*1,000 foodborne outbreaks cost $3 billion a year in health care. Throw in lost productivity, and that cost reaches $15 billion.
Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the CDC’s division of foodborne, waterborne and environmental diseases, said the good news is that the incidence of many foodborne illnesses has stabilized, such as listeria and salmonella.
However, vibrio is on the rise. The virulent bacteria is most often found in shellfish, and about half of infections are fatal. Tauxe called it the “E. coli of the sea,” noting that the subtropical bacteria has moved up the coast; even Alaska has reported an outbreak.
“The waters they (fish) live in are getting warmer and warmer over time,” he said.
One promising note: Tauxe said bacteria DNA can now be sequenced, just like human DNA, creating an important tool to investigate outbreaks. The cost is now less than $100.