Leafy Vegetables More Likely to Cause Sickness than Poultry and Beef -- Study

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By Ma Evelyn Castino Quilas | July 31, 2014 1:17 PM EST

Famous restaurant owner Alice May Brock once said that vegetables are a must on a diet. But recent study on attribution of foodborne illnesses revealed that leafy vegetables are more likely to cause sickness than pork and beef.

According to a study published by CDC, health experts examined the all the food sources of all foodborne illnesses, hospitalisations, and deaths to food commodities in the United States from 1998 to 2008. The study focused on over 4.5 thousand foodborne disease outbreaks reported throughout the course of the experiment.

The decade-long study revealed that leafy vegetables accounted for 46 percent of the illnesses in the country mostly because of norovirus. An estimated over two million illnesses during study were attributed to leafy vegetables.

Leafy vegetables also ranked second to dairy as the major cause of hospitalisation owing to around eight thousand cases in the United States.

In terms of produce, the study examined the six plant food categories namely vine-stalk vegetables, sprout vegetables, root vegetables, fungi vegetables, leafy vegetables, and fruit-nuts. Almost half (46 percent) of the illnesses recorded during the study period were attributed to the above-mentioned products.

Meanwhile, poultry only ranked fourth in the list which attributed to around one million illnesses. It also ranked as the third major attributor of hospitalisation with almost seven thousand hospitalisation cases recorded.

However, even though there were fewer illnesses recorded which were caused by poultry, this accounts for the most cause of death at 19 percent. Many of the deaths recorded were due to Salmonella and Listeria infections.

During the study period, there were three large outbreaks of Listeria which were associated with sliced processed turkey. Although in the recent years, there were fewer cases of Listeria outbreaks that have transpired.

Beef was placed only on the sixth spot which attributed to almost one million illnesses in the country. It also attributed to around three thousand hospitalisation cases in the country.

In the general picture of meat and poultry, the study also scrutinised the combined four animal food categories namely poultry, pork, game, and beef. It was revealed in the study that meat and poultry accounted to 29 percent of deaths in the United States.

One question posed on the study reads: "Does this mean I should not eat produce and poultry?"

The study proponents stated that is was not the message of the paper. The study results did not mean that people should not eat particular food categories.

"A healthy and safe diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle," the study proponents pointed out.

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