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CSPI: Seafood, eggs, biggest causes of food poisoning in U.S.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Seafood is the biggest cause of food poisoning in the United States, having caused 237 outbreaks since 1990, a consumer group said on Monday.

Eggs come in second, having caused 170 outbreaks, mostly of salmonella, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which researches health and other issues, said.

 RESOURCE
 

"Contaminated seafood and eggs harbor a host of hazards for the unsuspecting consumer," Caroline Smith DeWaal, director for food safety for the nonprofit CSPI, said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, the government has done far too little to clean up those foods. Federal food-safety agencies should immediately begin laboratory testing for dangerous bacteria in seafood and eggs," she added.

"In addition, government inspectors should monitor conditions in processing plants much more rigorously than they do today."

The group said beef was also involved in 91 outbreaks, 40 of them from ground beef, while fruits and vegetables of all kinds were involved in 82 outbreaks, with sprouts and lettuce being the most commonly cited.

An outbreak is declared when two or more people are infected from a single identified food. The group used data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC), medical journals and from state and local health departments to compile its report.

The group noted that most people who become ill from food poisoning or who die are not affected in outbreaks but in single-case incidents. It said 75 million cases of food poisoning occur in the United States each year and 5,000 people die from it.

Common causes of food poisoning are salmonella bacteria, listeria, which grows in cheese and other unpasteurized dairy products, meat and seafood and, in recent years, a toxic strain of E. coli bacteria.

The group suggested that CDC maintain a database on all food-related outbreaks.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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