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June 2, 1993

Foodborne Illness in the 1990s

Author Affiliations

Food and Drug Administration Rockville, Md

JAMA. 1993;269(21):2737. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500210037022

To the Editor.  —The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that food causes 6.5 million acute illnesses and 9000 associated deaths annually1; other morbidity estimates are substantially higher.2 Unlike many infectious diseases, foodborne illness is largely preventable.The Minnesota Department of Health's studies of foodborne illness offer important lessons. In one study,3 a shigellosis outbreak was traced to food served on a commercial aircraft. This study shows that the simplest rules of preventing foodborne disease, such as good personal hygiene and proper refrigeration of food, are frequently forgotten.A second article4 describes a large, diffuse outbreak of salmonellosis in which the vehicle was commercially shredded cheese, and the causative agents were Salmonella javiana and Salmonella oranienburg. Without historical data on human isolate serotypes and the monitoring of specific serotype isolations by epidemiologists, this outbreak could have been overlooked.Both these articles make clear that

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