Thursday, May 5, 2011

Top 10 Worst Pathogen-Food Combos


In honor of our microbiology final tomorrow, here is a list of the ten pathogen-food combinations that have the greatest effect on America's health. The study from the University of Florida Emerging Pathogens Institute is noteworthy in that instead of measuring illness in terms of incidence as is commonly the case, the analysis shifts the focus to long-term impacts like greater health care costs and disease burden in the form of Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) lost. Toxoplasma, for example, represents less than 1% of foodborne illness but holds two of the top ten spots on the list costing us almost $2B a year and 7,000 QALYs. Investigations such as the Florida study show that better synthesizing data across a historically fragmented health care and food safety system through health information technology (HIT) can help to target limited resources toward preventive efforts in the most effective and efficient way possible.
  1. Campylobacter in poultry: $1.3 billion annually, 9,500 lost quality adjusted life years (QALYs)
  2. Toxoplasma in pork: $1.2 billion, 4,500 QALYs
  3. Listeria in deli meats: $1.1 billion, 4,000 QALYs
  4. Salmonella in poultry: $700 million, 3,600 QALYs
  5. Listeria in dairy products: $700 million, 2,600 QALYs
  6. Salmonella in complex foods: $600 million, 3,200 QALYs
  7. Norovirus in complex foods: $900 million, 2,300 QALYs
  8. Salmonella in produce: $500 million, 2,800 QALYs
  9. Toxoplasma in beef: $700 million, 2,500 QALYs
  10. Salmonella in eggs: $400 million, 1,900 QALYs
And of course, remember to wash everything and cook it through thoroughly!