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"I usually say it is one of the safest in the world," said Tauxe, when asked about the U.S. food supply. "But increasingly, our food supply is the world."
Patients suffering gastric distress sometimes assume food poisoning, partly because of all the outbreak news and partly because it's human nature, some doctors said.
"I think a lot of people in general say, 'I have symptoms. I must have eaten something that's caused this,'" said Dr. Andi Shane, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Atlanta's Emory University.
Patients may not consider an infection came from some other means, like handling a contaminated tissue, she said.
Some may also find the latest outbreak unsettling because it involved a prepackaged food like peanut butter, said Dr. Akiko Kimura, an epidemiologist with the California Department of Public Health.
"It's ready-to-eat, and so there wasn't anything the consumer could do," she said.
Food disease investigators say their experience has made them careful to wash their hands, review restaurant inspection reports and think carefully about the foods they eat.
"I am fond of many foods, but I draw the line at eating raw meat and raw poultry, raw oysters and raw unpasteurized eggs," said the CDC's Tauxe.
"I run the cutting boards through our dishwasher," he added.
On the Net:
CDC's frequently asked questions on foodborne illness: http://tinyurl.com/2fpjx
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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