In the past two decades, the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in the United States has increased, and the geographic sources and distribution of fresh produce have expanded greatly. Concomitantly, public health officials have documented an increase in the number of reported produce-associated foodborne disease outbreaks in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the number of these outbreaks doubled between 1973 and 1987, and 1988 and 1991, and that the number of cases of illness associated with these outbreaks more than doubled. A variety of produce items have been affected. During 1995 alone, major outbreak investigations linked infections with Salmonella serotype Stanley to alfalfa sprouts, Salmonella Hartford to unpasteurized orange juice, Shigella spp. to lettuce and green onions, Escherichia coli O157:H7 to lettuce, and hepatitis A virus to tomatoes. In response to this apparent increase, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asked the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods to address and better define the association of foodborne disease and microbial pathogens with fresh produce. A subcommittee formed in June 1995 is documenting relevant epidemiologic data, current industry practices, and laboratory data to identify potential hazards and related control strategies. This report presents the preliminary findings of that subcommittee.
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- Disease prevention
- Foodborne disease