Graphic: Cathleen Heard

It's what the government doesn't know about food that can kill you, says a federal science-policy analyst. "We do rely on Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention (CDC)] data, and the new numbers on foodborne illness are certainly something we didn't want to see," the analyst says. She is referring to a disturbing CDC report issued in September1 that ups the ante for foodborne diseases to an estimated 76 million incidents per year--twice the number reported in a widely cited 1993 Council of Agricultural Science and Technology survey.2 The CDC report, which is based on proactive monitoring programs and better detection methods, also cites 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 food-related deaths in the United States per year. "A large proportion of what CDC has found is attributable to unknown causes," according to the analyst, who is affiliated with a large government watchdog agency and who asked...

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