Iotron Technology Inc.


040303 CDC Says New Meat Testing Cuts Food Diseases

March 4, 2004

Atlanta, GA - The number of Americans who become sick from three common food borne bacteria appears to be declining, due in part to improved testing of meat and poultry, federal health officials reported this week.

An estimated 76 million people in the United States become sick each year after eating undercooked meat, eggs and shellfish, unpasteurized dairy products and other foods containing bacteria.

Symptoms typically include diarrhea, cramping and nausea, and most people recover without hospitalization.

The good news is that a U.S. government survey of nine states found that the incidence of laboratory-confirmed cases of Campylobacter, Listeria monocytogenes and Yersinia enterocolitica fell between 1996 and 2002.

The declines ranged from 24 percent in the case of Campylobacter to 43 percent for Yersinia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which did the study.

Jennifer Nelson, one of the study's researchers, said improved meat testing and other control measures introduced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture had contributed to the reduced number of confirmed infections caused by these bacteria.

"We now have regular microbiological testing of meat and poultry and there are steps the USDA can take to keep tainted meat from entering the food supply," Nelson said.

While the CDC found little change in the overall incidence of infections caused by the Salmonella, Shigella or E. coli O157:H7 bacteria, it did note that the number of confirmed Vibrio cases jumped 125 percent in the same period.

Consumption of shellfish is the primary cause of Vibrio infections, which typically are marked by chills and fever. Nelson recommended that consumers wash their hands and clean surfaces when handling shellfish and avoid eating raw oysters.

Nelson and her fellow researchers tracked the incidence and trends of seven food borne diseases through the FoodNet surveillance system, which was introduced by the Atlanta-based CDC in 1996.


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