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Top Ten Food Pathogens

Report identifies Top 10 pathogen-food combinations

An American report, newly released, identifies the Top 10 riskiest combinations of foods and disease-causing bugs. Campylobacter and poultry, Toxoplasma and pork (and unknown sources), Listeria and deli meats, Salmonella and poultry, and Listeria in dairy products top the list.

THE TOP TEN LIST, by researchers at the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute, is the first to rank not just pathogens but the combinations of foods and pathogens that cause significant outbreaks of illness, high costs and long-term complications.

Fourteen foodborne pathogens cost $14.1 billion and present a significant public health burden, says the report.

Campylobacter and poultry, Toxoplasma and pork (and unknown sources), Listeria and deli meats, Salmonella and poultry, and Listeria in dairy products top the list.

Next in the ranking: both Salmonella and Norovirus from “complex foods,” Salmonella from produce, Toxoplasma from Beef, and Salmonella from eggs.

Some key findings and recommendations of the report include:  

* The Top 10 pathogen-food combinations cost the United States an estimated $8 billion a year.

* Ninety percent of the health burden is caused by five pathogens: Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria monocytogenes, Toxoplasma gondii and norovirus. These bugs are responsible for an estimated $12.7 billion in annual economic loss.

* Salmonella is the leading pathogen, causing the largest number of hospitalisations, the greatest number of deaths and the highest cost burden. The report recommends that FDA and USDA develop a joint initiative to target Salmonella, which is found in a wide variety of foods.

* The researchers recommend that federal, state and local agencies coordinate their efforts and target the biggest food safety problems, including the Top 10 list.

The full report can be found at the Emerging Pathogens Institute website at www.epi.ufl.edu

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