Eek—the culprit is definitely in your fridge and your freezer right now.
According to a report released on Thursday by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the incidence of foodborne illness has remained largely unchanged in the United States in the past several years. Though this sounds scary and upsetting upon first read, it actually means that the tools that the nation’s regulatory agencies use to identify outbreaks are improving. When it comes to information and news about food safety, more is better.
That being said, the CDC reported that the most common causes of sickness from foods—Salmonella and Campylobacter—are not improving. “The number of human infections caused by Campylobacter and Salmonella, especially serotype Enteritidis, remains high,” the report reads. The perpetrator most likely to give you a foodborne illness? Chicken.
Salmonella can come from a variety of foods, but the most common causes are chicken, eggs, produce, beef and pork. The other big cause of infection, Campylobacter, is near-exclusively linked to chicken. Both Salmonella and Campylobacter are spread through animal feces (and again, are most often found in raw chicken products).
The USDA recently reported that in the past year, 22 percent of production plants did not meet standards for limiting Salmonella contamination in chicken parts. They released a follow-up statement saying that they’re working to improve their approach to fighting bacteria prone to causing foodborne illness.
However, according to Tony Corbo of Food and Water Watch, an advocacy group that supports stricter food safety regulations, Salmonella and Campylobacter are actually allowed in raw poultry sold in supermarkets. This is why health experts so heavily emphasize the importance of proper poultry handling and cooking at home.
We can't stress this enough, either. For must-know rules to follow when prepping and cooking chicken safely, check out this helpful guide.