Leafy Green Vegetables Top Food Poisoning Cause: CDC

A new government review of foodborne illnesses reported over a 10-year period has revealed that leafy green vegetables are the leading source of food poisoning in the United States. 

According to a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more people between fell ill with food poisoning between 1998 and 2008 due to leafy greens, such as spinach, than with any other food. However, food poisoning due to contaminated poultry was actually the leading cause of deaths.

The CDC tracked a total of 13,352 foodborne disease outbreaks during the 10-year period through the Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System. Altogether produce accounted for 46% of all food poisoning, the CDC noted that was primarily due to leafy green vegetables, which were associated with 23% of all food poisoning illnesses, or nearly one out of every four.

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In 2006, a massive nationwide spinach recall was issued due to an E. coli food poisoning outbreak, but the number of illnesses linked to that recall were too small to account for any significant impact on the study’s results, which blamed leafy green vegetables for 2.1 million illnesses, far more than the second-leading source of food poisoning, dairy, which accounted for only 1.3 million illnesses.

When it came to hospitalizations and deaths, leafy green vegetables ranked near the bottom of the list, with poultry taking the dubious top slot, accounting to 19% of all food poisoning deaths. Leafy green vegetables accounted for only 6% of all deaths.

The report was issued just days after the CDC released another analysis of food poisoning rates from 2009 and 2010, which found that norovirus was the most common pathogen linked to foodborne illnesses. The 10-year study found the same.

Norovirus is extremely contagious and causes gastroenteritis. Symptoms of gastroenteritis from norovirus in humans can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramping and sometimes low-grade fevers, chills, headaches, muscle aches and tiredness. The symptoms hit suddenly, and last for about several days.


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