Foods That Make People Sick With E. Coli: Beef, Plants Grown In Rows

Image courtesy of (Adam Fagen)

There are three different agencies in the federal government that handle different types of foodborne illnesses and separate aspects of those illnesses. While two outbreaks might be caused by the same pathogen, which agency handles them depends on whether the food contains meat or not. This is sort of inefficient.

The majority of E. coli illnessses, for example, come from two different sources: beef and vegetables grown in rows. Salmonella illnesses come from a variety of meat and plant sources. The three agencies that handle different parts of food safety are the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In his proposed budget for 2016, the President proposed combining government food safety responsibilities in a single agency, something that experts have proposed in the past for public safety reasons as well as saving taxpayer money by consolidating the same functions in one place. For example, now, if a batch of frozen burritos are contaminated, the vegetarian burritos and beef burritos would be investigated and recalled by different agencies: the FDA for the meatless version, and the USDA for the beefy one.

This report represents the first time that the various food-safety agencies have joined forces in this way to work together, finding answers with only one methodology.

U.S. government report outlines foods most prone to pathogens [Reuters]

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