Foodborne Burden

A recent report from the CDC analyzed the sources of foodborne illness in the US from 1998-2008.

Cited as one of the most comprehensive analyses of attributing illness to food, the results of this report might surprise you – namely because of the role that fresh produce plays.

The researcher found that produce accounted for nearly half of all foodborne illnesses (the majority of which were caused by norovirus).

The report found that:

  • 48 million people in the US get sick each year – roughly 1 in 6 Americans
  • From 1998-2008 poultry has caused 277 deaths while vegetables have caused 236 deaths
  • Almost half (46%) of foodborne illnesses were linked to produce, including fruits and nuts
  • 19% of meat death (which accounts for 43% of all foodborne illness death) arose from poultry and most from listeria or salmonella

Despite the risk of eating getting sick from fresh produce (and contaminated meat, undercooked eggs, even nuts and seeds…) the CDC still recommends a diet high in fruits and vegetables.

Here are some helpful tips for keeping yourself safe when it comes to food preparation:

  • Wash your produce carefully, especially leafy greens
  • Special produce washes are unnecessary, water & friction do just fine but all raw foods can present risk
  • Keep your hot food hot and your cold food cold – avoid the danger zone of 40-140 degrees F, where bacteria thrive
  • Separate your foods – don’t cross-contaminate, especially with raw protein foods

To learn more visit or the CDC’s Food Safety page.