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Fewer Americans Taking Chances With Food

Only a fifth eat raw eggs, meat or other infection-prone items, survey finds

TUESDAY, March 21, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- The foods Americans consume each day are safer now than ever before, researchers report.

That's according to a survey on foodborne illness, released Tuesday in Atlanta at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The percentage of Americans eating one or more risky foods with a known high risk for infectious illness -- pink hamburgers, pink ground beef, raw fresh fish, raw oysters, raw/unpasteurized milk, runny eggs, alfalfa sprouts -- decreased by a third between 1998 and 2002, from 31 percent to 21 percent, the researchers said.

Men aged 18 to 64 were more likely to report consuming risky foods than women in the same age group (38 percent vs. 30 percent), and Asians/Pacific Islanders were more likely than whites to consume risky foods (32 percent vs. 21 percent).

"Overall, we are seeing a decline in risky food consumption, and that may be attributable to published media reports of foodborne outbreaks and outreach efforts by the public health community," study author Erica Weis, of the California Department of Health Services, said in a prepared statement.

"However, in the future there needs to be more targeted outreach to those groups that continue to have high levels of risky food consumption," she said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about foodborne illness.

SOURCE: American Society for Microbiology, news release, March 21, 2006
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