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Industry Angry Over ‘10 Riskiest Foods’ List: Tuna #3

The ‘Ten Riskiest Foods’ list compiled by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has the food industry, understandably upset. The CSPI looked at FDA-regulated products to make the list, figuring out lettuce, eggs, tuna, oysters, potatoes, cheese, ice cream, tomatoes, sprouts and berries were products that had since 1990 been associated with the highest number of food-borne illnesses, with the exception of meat, regulated by the USDA.

Quite naturally, outraging groups whose products are featured in the Top Ten list, such as, the Produce Marketing Association, the American Blue Fin Tuna Association, the National Milk Producers Federation, along with other groups who have been pushed into damage-control mode.

National Fisheries Institute states: ‘Seafood is a safe and healthy product that is an essential part of the American diet.’

Tuna is mentioned as number 3 on the list showing the following information :
3) Tuna - 268 outbreaks, 2341 reported cases of illness reported within a timespan of 19 years

Fresh fish decay quickly after being caught and, if stored above 60 degrees F, begin to release natural toxins that are dangerous for humans. Adequate refrigeration and handling can slow this spoilage, but the toxin cannot be destroyed by cooking, freezing, smoking, curing, or canning.
While, some of the healthiest foods is also the most likely to cause food-borne illness, fact of the matter is that CSPI is not asking consumers to avoid any of these Top Ten products. Rather, its study was attempting to highlight the fact that better regulation of healthy foods is necessary, as even they can be dangerous. That’s the conclusion y the CSPI’s report draws up, showing leafy greens, sprouts, and berries being amongst the most prone to carry infections or toxins.

Analyzing CDC data on food illness outbreaks dating back to 1990, the group found leafy greens were involved in 363-outbreaks and 13,600-illnesses, caused mostly by norovirus, E. coli, and salmonella bacteria.

The rest of the Top 10 list includes:

2.  Eggs involved in 352-outbreaks and 11,163 reported cases of illness.

4· Oysters involved in 132-outbreaks and 3,409 reported cases of illness.

·5Potatoes involved in 108-outbreaks and 3,659 reported cases of illness.

·6 Cheese involved in 83-outbreaks and 2,761 reported cases of illness.

7 Ice cream involved in 74-outbreaks and 2,594 reported cases of illness.

8 Tomatoes involved in 31-outbreaks and 3,292 reported cases of illness.

·9 Sprouts involved in 31-outbreaks and 2,022 reported cases of illness.

·10 Berries involved in 25-outbreaks and 3,397 reported cases of illness.

It is not clear how many of these outbreaks should be blamed on the foods themselves, as the CDC database cannot discriminate between outbreaks caused by tomatoes or those caused by other ingredients in a salad. Foods like potatoes are always cooked before being consumed, so it is unlikely potatoes themselves were responsible for the 108-outbreaks.