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Big gaps in US food-borne illness response

02-Nov-2009
Last updated the 02-Nov-2009 at 16:49 GMT

Delays in the public health response to food-borne illness in the US occur because some state health departments cannot efficiently track produce-related illnesses, according to a survey commissioned by the Produce Safety Project (PSP).

Despite an increase in outbreaks related to fresh produce, only 25 of the 39 states which responded to the survey asked victims about specific produce items. Nearly 60 per cent were unable to link different data sources to aid investigation of food-borne illnesses revealed the study.

PSP director, Jim O’Hara said: “The lack of food attribution data and especially attribution to produce is astounding considering the large burden of food-borne illness in the US.”

Food-borne pathogens cause an estimated 76m illnesses in the US each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).