The lead researcher on foodborne diseases says irradiation would reduce the number of cases of foodborne illnesses across the United States.
Hannah Gould made the comment while presenting data to the annual North American Meat Association’s Pathogen Control and Regulatory Compllance in Beef Processsing conference in Chicago this week.
She mentioned irradiation as a specific measure under her call for “additional pathogen reduction methods.”
Gould is team lead for the National Outbreak Reporting System.
She said beef accounts for nine per cent of foodborne disease outbreaks in the U.S., chicken for nine per cent and pork for seven per cent.
Between 2009 and 2013, 35 per cent of the beef cases involved E. coli O157:H7 and 23 percent involved salmonella.
Gould said 56 percent of the E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks associated with beef between 2003 and 2012 involved beef cooked at home, while 24 percent involved beef cooked at a restaurant, deli or banquet facility.
Gould said salmonella is the most common cause of bacterial foodborne illness and outbreaks in the United States, causing about 1.2 million illnesses and 130 outbreaks annually.
Salmonella infections and outbreaks from all sources have not declined in 15 years despite control efforts.
Gould made these recommendations:
• Educate consumers and food handlers;
• Clearly label mechanically tenderized beef;
• Apply additional pathogen reduction methods (e.g., irradiation);
• Judiciously use antibiotics in clinical medicine and animal husbandry;
• Strengthen measures to control antimicrobial-resistant salmonella in beef destined for grinding, and
• Enhance surveillance of foodborne disease outbreaks and infections.