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US Report: Food Poisoning Increasing at a Higher Rate

``For some reason, campylobacter is making people sick with lots of different fingerprints,'' Tauxe said.

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food poisoning
FILE - These products displayed in a Redwood City. Calif., grocery store were subject to meat giant Cargill's recall of 36 million pounds of ground turkey linked to a nationwide salmonella outbreak, Aug. 3, 2011. VOA

As recent illnesses tied to raw turkey, ground beef, cut melon and romaine lettuce suggest, U.S. food poisoning cases don’t appear to be going away anytime soon.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report Thursday that the frequency of several types of food poisoning infections climbed last year, but that the increases could be the result of new diagnostic tools that help identify more cases.

Overall, the agency believes food poisoning rates have remained largely unchanged.

Dr. Robert Tauxe, director of the agency’s foodborne illness division, said the figures show more needs to be done to make food safer. He noted the two most common causes of infection have been longtime problems.

One of the two, salmonella, can come from an array of foods including vegetables, chicken, eggs, beef and pork. The other germ, campylobacter, is commonly tied to chicken. People may not hear as much about it because health officials often can’t group cases into outbreaks. Both bacteria are spread through animal feces.

“For some reason, campylobacter is making people sick with lots of different fingerprints,” Tauxe said.

Obstacles to better understanding

The report is based on monitoring in 10 states, but is seen as an indicator of national trends. It highlights the difficulty in understanding food poisoning when so many cases go unreported, diagnostic methods are inconsistent, and production practices and eating habits are constantly changing.

With chicken, for instance, companies have brought down salmonella rates in raw whole carcasses since the government began publishing test results of individual plants. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture only recently began posting similar data for raw chicken parts like breasts and legs, which Americans have gravitated toward over the years.

Last year, the agency said 22 percent of production plants did not meet its standard for limiting salmonella in chicken parts. The USDA said in a statement that it’s working to improve its approach to fighting bacteria, including with the publication of such data.

food poisoning
This 2004 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows gram-negative campylobacter fetus bacteria. As of April 2019, recent illnesses tied to raw turkey, ground beef, cut melon and romaine lettuce suggest U.S. food poisoning cases don’t appear to be going away anytime soon. VOA

Despite such efforts, salmonella and campylobacter are allowed in raw poultry sold in supermarkets, noted Tony Corbo of Food and Water Watch, an advocacy group that supports stricter food safety regulations. It’s why health experts advise people to properly handle and cook poultry.

“There is very little the USDA can do besides posting the report card on salmonella,” he said.

The National Chicken Council says the industry has been working to bring down contamination rates, including through germ-killing solutions sprayed on raw chicken during processing, improved sanitation and increased use of vaccines. But the group says the bacteria are endemic in chickens and that eliminating them is difficult.

The CDC report also notes produce is a major source of food poisoning, citing recent E. coli outbreaks tied to romaine lettuce. It said outbreaks tied to produce also contributed to a big jump in infections from a parasite called cyclospora.

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The Food and Drug Administration, which oversees the safety of fruits and vegetables, said in a statement that a recently developed test is helping it detect the parasite in produce. The agency is also implementing new regulations for produce, though food safety experts note the inherent risk with fruits and vegetables that are grown in open fields and eaten raw.

The CDC said is still working to confirm how much increases in food poisoning cases can be chalked up to new diagnostic methods. It noted some results of a newer, faster test could be false positives. (VOA)

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Reduction of Job Strain Can Lower the Threat of Mental Illness Cases

The researchers also accounted for non-workplace factors including divorce, financial problems, housing instability, and other stressful life events like death or illness.

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If your workplace is supporting its employees by reducing their job strain, it may boost in preventing new cases of common mental illness from occurring up to 14 per cent, a new study suggests.
Stress at work place is linked to mental illness as well. Pixabay

If your workplace is supporting its employees by reducing their job strain, it may boost in preventing new cases of common mental illness from occurring up to 14 per cent, a new study suggests.

The findings, published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry, confirm that high job strain is associated with an increased risk of developing common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety amongst middle-aged workers.

Job strain is a term used to describe the combination of high work pace, intensity, and conflicting demands, coupled with low control or decision-making capacity.

“The results indicate that if we were able to eliminate job strain situations in the workplace, up to 14 per cent of cases of common mental illness could be avoided,” said lead author Samuel Harvey, Associate Professor at the Black Dog Institute in Australia.

“These findings serve as a wake-up call for the role workplace initiatives should play in our efforts to curb the rising costs of mental disorders,” Harvey added.

To determine levels of job strain, 6,870 participants completed questionnaires at age 45 testing for factors including decision authority, skill discretion and questions about job pace, intensity and conflicting demands.

If your workplace is supporting its employees by reducing their job strain, it may boost in preventing new cases of common mental illness from occurring up to 14 per cent, a new study suggests.
Mental illness can be reduced by reducing the job pressure. Pixabay

The researchers also accounted for non-workplace factors including divorce, financial problems, housing instability, and other stressful life events like death or illness.

The models developed in this study controlled for individual workers’ temperament and personality, their IQ, level of education, prior mental health problems and a range of other factors from across their early lives.

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The final modelling suggested that those experiencing higher job demands, lower job control and higher job strain were at greater odds of developing mental illness by age 50, regardless of sex or occupational class.

“Workplaces can adopt a range of measures to reduce job strain, and finding ways to increase workers’ perceived control of their work is often a good practical first step. This can be achieved through initiatives that involve workers in as many decisions as possible,” Harvey, who is also affiliated with the University of New South Wales in Australia, noted. (IANS)