Leafy Greens, Poultry Top Foodborne Illness Sources


Leafy greens were to blame for the greatest proportion of foodborne illnesses over a recent 10-year span, according to a new CDC report, but poultry accounted for the most deaths from contaminated food. Dairy products were linked to the most hospitalizations in the study covering 1998 through 2008-primarily cases involving “raw,” unpasteurized milk and cream. Overall, the report looked at 4,887 outbreaks that caused 128,269 illnesses in which the culprit foods could be identified or suspected; 277 deaths were attributed to contaminated poultry and 140 to dairy.

CDC epidemiologist Patricia Griffin cautioned that the report, which linked leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach to 23% of foodborne illnesses, shouldnt lead consumers to skip these healthy foods. “The vast majority of meals are safe,” she said. “Eating leafy greens is important to a healthy diet.”

To stay safe, experts added, wash leafy greens and other produce thoroughly and cook poultry and other foods completely. Dairy shouldnt be a concern as long as youre among the vast majority of Americans who consume pasteurized products, estimated to be 150 times safer than “raw” milk products.


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