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CDC report: Imported fish, spices biggest culprits in disease outbreaks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said imported seafood and spices were the most common culprits in disease outbreaks.

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Imported seafood and spices are the most common causes of disease outbreaks said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on March 14, 2012. (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday that disease outbreaks from imported food are on the rise, according to NPR.

Imported seafood and spices are the most common culprits in disease outbreaks, according to data collected from 2005 to 2010.

Reviewing cases of outbreaks from that period, the CDC found that 2,348 of the illnesses were linked to imported food, with half of the cases occurring in 2009 and 2010, said the AFP.

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Outbreaks linked to fish were the most common, and nearly 45 percent of all the imported food that caused sickness originated in Asia. The AFP said fish caused 17 of the 39 outbreaks, with spices causing six outbreaks, with five of those linked to fresh or dried peppers.

According to NPR, it's not that imported food is worse than home-grown, but the fact that Americans are consuming a lot more imported food. Hannah Gould, an epidemiologist at the CDC, said, "Since the late 1990s the amount of food that's imported has doubled. The number of outbreaks has mirrored that."

Bloomberg reported that 85 percent of seafood and 60 percent of fresh produce consumed in the US is imported. The US imports 16 percent of all the food consumed. In 1999, the US imported $41 billion worth of food, and by 2010 that number had grown to $86 billion, according to Reuters.

According to Bloomberg, the US Food and Drug Administration inspects 2 percent of imports, after screening 10 million annual shipments to determine the risk factor. The agency will also be doubling the number of foreign food processing plants it inspects every year for the next five years.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/health/120314/cdc-imported-fish-spices-biggest-culprits-disease-outbreaks