Keeping One Eye on Food-Borne Illness
First, for the record: Pork apparently remains safe to eat. Here's this from the World Health Organization's swine flu information sheet:
Is it safe to eat pork and pork products?
Yes. Swine influenza has not been shown to be transmissible to people through eating
properly handled and prepared pork (pig meat) or other products derived from pigs. The swine influenza virus is killed by cooking temperatures of 160 F/70 C, corresponding to the general guidance for the preparation of pork and other meat.
But don't serve that pork chop with a side of raw alfalfa sprouts. You might have missed the FDA's warning on Sunday to avoid raw alfalfa sprouts and any salads or other dishes containing them because they may be contaminated with salmonella. Sprouts are particularly vulnerable to this potentially deadly pathogen, which can be present in the seed and is encouraged by the warm, humid conditions under which sprouting takes place. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 31 cases of sprout-related salmonella in 6 states since mid-March; officials are working to pin down the sources of infected sprouts; bean and other kinds of sprouts aren't implicated.
Today the Center for Science in the Public Interest joins several other public-health advocacy groups, members of Congress and relatives of people who have died from food-borne illnesses (including E coli-tainted spinach in 2006 and salmonella-ridden peanut butter early this year) in hosting an event calling attention to the dangers of food-borne illness.
Their message could easily get lost in the commotion over swine flu. That's why I'm blogging about it. We don't yet know how bad this flu situation will get. But we do know that food-borne illness sickens 76 million Americans a year, according to the CDC, and kills about 5,000.
We need to protect ourselves on both fronts. Let's not lose sight of one while consumed with the other.
Please respond to today's poll -- and elaborate in the comments section.
Jennifer LaRue Huget
April 29, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: General Health , Health Policy , Nutrition and Fitness
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