The agency said that outbreaks involving fresh produce grabbed the headlines this year and last, but an analysis of the rates of outbreak-related illnesses caused by various foods shows that fish and shellfish account for more sicknesses per bite than any other category.
Outbreaks: The CSPI claims that its alert database, even when not adjusted for consumption, has more seafood outbreaks - 1,140 - than for any other category of food.
“Fin fish, such as tuna, grouper, mahi mahi, and salmon, were linked to 694 of those outbreaks; molluscs, including oysters, clams, and mussels were linked to 175 outbreaks; and the rest linked to shrimp, lobster, or foods such as crab cakes and tuna burgers.
“While Vibrio bacteria and noroviruses contributed to those, naturally occurring toxins such as scombrotoxin and ciguatoxin account for a plurality of seafood outbreaks,” stated the agency.
It said that, according to its data, a pound of fish and shellfish is 29 times more likely to cause illness than the safest food category, a pound of dairy foods.
Prevention urged: The CSPI said that as foodborne illness is dramatically underreported, and due to the fact that it is so difficult to prove which food caused an outbreak, its data represents just the tip of a very large iceberg: “Each year, according to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), foodborne illness sickens 76 million and kills 5,000 Americans.”
The not for profit consumer group is urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reduce its reliance on recalls and warnings and instead focus on preventing these problems ever reaching consumers.