The U.S. government has issued their latest report card on food poisoning, and the winner (should we call it that?) for the food most likely to make you sick is in.
A germ called campylobacter most often found in eggs and raw milk, and sometimes in water and unwashed produce, is now more likely to give you food poisoning than salmonella—the number one cause for more than 20 years. Other dangerous bugs found in our food that made the list include listeria, shigella and E. Coli.
The good news is that food poisoning cases overall are not getting any more common, but they aren't decreasing either. Around 1 in 6 Americans get sick from contaminated food get sick each year, a rate that has stayed the same in the past three years. The food poisoning report report tallied about 24,000 illnesses and 98 deaths in just 10 states – that might seem like a small sample, the CDC maintains that it’s a good indicator of nationwide trends. Around 3,000 people die every year from food poisoning across the country.
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This year’s report took advantage of some technological advances: The CDC now includes results from “rapid tests,” which test for 20 more types of bacteria than a traditional food poisoning lab test. This type of test ended up detecting more campylobacter than in previous years, but the catch is that some of the bacteria may have been dead—which means it didn’t cause any illnesses.
More chickens are being vaccinated against salmonella, which could account for the drop in the number of people affected by the foodborne bacteria, more good news if you like to cook chicken at home. The tactic has had amazing success in the UK, where there where only 459 lab-confirmed cases of salmonella in the 2010 down from around 18,000 in the early '90s.
The drop in salmonella doesn’t mean you should get lazy about keeping your kitchen habits clean: Wash your hands and your food thoroughly, and make sure your meat is cooked at the proper temperature.