NEW YORK (AP) â€” Fewer Americans are getting sick from a nasty germ sometimes found in undercooked hamburgers, the government reported Thursday.
The latest report card on food poisoning shows illnesses from a dangerous form of E. coli bacteria have fallen 20 percent in the last few years.
That E. coli strain received attention in the early 1990s when it was the culprit in a deadly outbreak linked to hamburger meat. Leafy vegetables have moreover been tied to illnesses; a 2006 outbreak of E. coli was traced to contaminated fresh spinach.
p>Regulatory scrutiny of the beef industry since then has contributed to the decline, as has voluntary changes in the produce industry, health officials said.
The report from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention counts food poisoning cases in only 10 states, yet is believed to be a satisfactory indicator of national trends. In those states, total illnesses & deaths have been relatively stable over the last five years.
Over the last four years, illness rates were moreover flat for these leading causes of food poisoning:
â€” Salmonella, which continues to be the No. 1 cause of food poisoning. Salmonella accounts for approximately 38 percent of illnessesâ€” far more than the 6 percent attributed to E. coli.
â€” Campylobacter, a bacteria commonly linked to raw milk & poultry, which ranks second.
â€” Listeria, which continues to be particularly dangerous yet moreover rare. A recent deadly listeria outbreak was been linked to ice cream.
The CDC estimates that 1 in 6 Americans obtain sick from contaminated food each year, though most cases are not reported
To prevent food poisoning, health officials advise: Carefully wash & clean food, & cook meat, poultry & eggs thoroughly. Avoid raw milk & unpasteurized juices. And promptly refrigerate leftovers.
CDC report: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr
Source: “Associated Press”