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Keeping One Eye on Food-Borne Illness

Let's take a break from worrying about swine flu -- and worry about food safety instead.

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.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  April 29, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  General Health , Health Policy , Nutrition and Fitness  
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Next: PSA Testing Gets A Boost

Comments

As a Carefirst BlueCross-BlueShield subscriber, I am repeatedly puzzled by the huge difference between the submitted charge for a given service (doctor, x-ray, etc.) listed on the Explanation of Benefits form and the Plan Allowance amount. Sometimes the submitted charge is six times larger. Does anyone actually have to pay the amount the provider listed, i.e., someone who has no insurance? If not, how is it meaningful? How is it arrived at? Few ordinary businesses would accept $80 for a $600 service. I think if medical pricing were more transparent, it might help us all understand why it is so difficult to develop a workable national health insurance plan as one option in the insurance mix.

Posted by: telomere | April 29, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

The diseases are transmitted by certain ways, I agree that it is not transmitted through the pork, and the WHO announcement, and they do just as the doctors in different countries where she has, in addition to contagion through food good is that if these are not the animal health inspection appropriate.
Herbal Remedies
http://www.naturals-products.com

Posted by: HerbalRemedies | April 29, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Food bourne illness has always been around. People are so worried about the swine flu that in some places, they have killed off thousands of pigs, despite the evidence that it is safe to eat pork.

Thornhill dentist
http://www.bcdentalcare.ca

Posted by: jae_cho08 | May 3, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

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