The Commercial Appeal reports that Robert Tauxe, chief of the foodborne-disease unit at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spoke at last week’s Institute of Food Technologists’ annual convention regarding the state of pathogenic outbreaks.

“There’s been some real progress in the prevention of (food) pathogens,” Tauxe said. But he reported that disease detectives “are finding more salmonella than we should,” and that more needs to be done in the meat-and-produce industry to combat the pathogen.

The CDC last year detected salmonella infections at the rate of 14.7 cases per 100,000 people – more than double the government’s “healthy people” goal. There were similarly high rates of salmonella infections from 2000 to 2003.
Although salmonella is commonly associated with ground beef and poultry, there have been outbreaks traced to green onions and cantaloupe imported from Mexico, snow peas from Guatemala and alfalfa from Australia. About 6 percent of foodborne illness is associated with fresh produce, the CDC says.