Study grades how states detect, report food-borne illness - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Study grades how states detect, report food-borne illness

ATLANTA (NBC) - The conclusion of a consumer group's study on food safety says more than half of the United States are ill-equipped at keeping food-borne illnesses contained.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest looked at how every state detected and investigated contaminated food outbreaks over a 10-year period beginning in 1998.

"That means that more people may be being exposed to contaminated food and being sickened by products that could be removed from the market if they were discovered earlier," CSPI Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWaal said.

According to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control, the consumer group gave only seven states an "A" for their handling of tainted food outbreaks. Seven others received a "B" and eight received a "C" while the remainder, 28 states, received "D" and "F" gradings.

The local health departments were often understaffed and underfunded.

"If a consumer calls and says they have a food-borne illness but there's no one there to investigate the cause, then outbreaks are just slipping under the radar screen," DeWaal said.

The center expects things to improve because of a law President Barack Obama signed this month that helps states better handle outbreaks of contaminated food.

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