Rice in Chinese food? Italian desserts? Food-styles most likely to cause illness in England and Wales

What shall we have for dinner? Chinese? Indian? Italian? Researchers at the UK’s Health Protection Agency went through available data and found some food-type-pathogen-matches that statistically stood out. Abstract below.

The food service sector continues to be the most common setting for reported foodborne disease outbreaks in England and Wales.

Using restaurant-associated foodborne outbreaks reported in England and Wales from 1992 to 2009, cuisine-specific risk factors were examined. Of 677 restaurant outbreaks, there were 11,795 people affected, 491 hospitalizations, and seven deaths; and Chinese, Indian, British and Italian cuisines were the most commonly implicated (26%, 16%, 13% and 10%, respectively).

Salmonella spp. accounted for most outbreaks of all cuisine types, and particularly Chinese (76%, 133/175) and Italian (55%, 38/69). Poultry meat was the most frequently implicated food vehicle in outbreaks associated with Indian (30%), Chinese (21%), and British (18%) cuisines while for Italian cuisine, desserts and cakes were more frequently implicated (33%). Rice dishes were also a common outbreak food vehicle in those restaurants serving Chinese (22%) and Indian (16%) cuisine.

Cross-contamination was the biggest contributory factor associated with Chinese (46%), British (33%) and Indian (30%) cuisines whereas inadequate cooking (38%) and use of raw shell eggs in lightly cooked or uncooked food (35%) were more often associated with Italian cuisine. Over the surveillance period, the proportion of SalmonellaEnteritidis PT4 outbreaks in restaurants serving Chinese cuisine significantly decreased (P<0·0001) and this was mirrored by an increase in S.Enteritidis non-PT4 outbreaks (P<0·0001). Despite this change in proportion, contributory factors such as cross-contamination have continued to cause outbreaks throughout the 18 years.

The results show that by stratifying the risks associated with restaurants by cuisine type, specific evidence of food control failures can be used to target foodborne illness reduction strategies.

Epidemiology and Infection June 2012 140 : pp 997-1007
F. J. Gormley, N. Rawal and C. L. Little

This entry was posted in Food Safety Policy and tagged , , by Douglas Powell. Bookmark the permalink.

About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of barfblog.com, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, barfblog.com retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 dpowell29@gmail.com 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time