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Fish And Spices Top List of Imported Foods That Make Us Sick

•, by Nancy Shute

Disease outbreaks with imported foods are on the rise, and fish and spices are the foods most likely to cause problems.

It's not that imported foods are any nastier than home-grown, according to a presentation today from researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's that we're eating a lot more of them.

"Since the late 1990s the amount of food that's imported has doubled," says Hannah Gould, an epidemiologist at the CDC who's been studying imported food and food safety. "The number of outbreaks has mirrored that."

But outbreaks caused by imported foods tend to affect a lot more people, since they're sold in multiple states. Typically just one to two percent of food outbreaks affect people in more than one state, Gould says. But with imported foods, 25 percent of the 39 outbreaks affected more than one state.
And the CDC thinks that problems with imported food are under-reported, because people often don't know the source of the food.

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