Foodborne disease outbreak investigations identify foods responsible for illnesses. However, it is not known the degree to which foods implicated in outbreaks reflect the distribution of food consumption in the U.S. population or the risk associated with their consumption. To examine this, we compared the distribution of foods in 24 categories implicated in outbreaks to the distribution of foods consumed by the U.S. population. Beef, chicken, eggs, fish, herbs, mollusks, pork, sprouts, seeded vegetables, and turkey were implicated in outbreaks significantly more often than expected based on the frequency of their consumption in the general population, suggesting a higher risk of contamination or mishandling from foods in these categories than in others. In contrast, pasteurized dairy, fruits, grains-beans, oils and sugars, and root/underground vegetables were less frequently implicated in outbreaks than they were consumed in the general population, suggesting a lower risk for these food categories.
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