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  • 1992 Portland Raw Milk Outbreak on Random Deadliest Food-Borne Illness Outbreaks In United States History

    (#5) 1992 Portland Raw Milk Outbreak

    The Outbreak: Streptococcus bacteria

    The Source: Raw milk.

    Number of Casualties: 22

    What Happened: All 22 victims of this streptococcus outbreak were children, each of whom had ingested raw milk from the same source. The first was a two-year-old whose death led to an investigation that uncovered over 500 cases of streptococcus. Investigators identified diseased cows kept in close quarters with healthy ones as the culprit. Throughout the city, dairy farm workers were often unsure which cows were safe to milk, leading to infected milk being sold to consumers. Experiments run on the tainted milk found a yellowish pus that became a marker of the disease. In the end, a single cow - dubbed "Cow 51" - was likely the sole source of the epidemic. 

  • 1919 California Botulism Outbreak on Random Deadliest Food-Borne Illness Outbreaks In United States History

    (#9) 1919 California Botulism Outbreak

    The Outbreak: Botulism 

    The Source: Canned olives.

    Number of Casualties: 19

    What Happened: Shortly after World War I, a virulent botulism outbreak spread through Ohio, Montana, and Michigan. Canned olives from California were responsible for the minor epidemic, which led to the deaths of 19 people. The outbreak was devastating for the California olive industry, and it would be a full decade before olive farmers got back on their feet. 

  • 1924 Typhoid Epidemic on Random Deadliest Food-Borne Illness Outbreaks In United States History

    (#8) 1924 Typhoid Epidemic

    The Outbreak: Salmonella, which caused Typhoid fever

    The Source: Oysters tainted by polluted water conditions. 

    Number of Casualties: 150

    What Happened: At the time, this was considered the deadliest food poisoning event in United States history. In the 1920s, it was custom to remove oysters from the sea and let them float in brackish water sources near cities to give them a plumper, cleaner appearance. However, allowing oysters to float in contaminated water proved a major public health risk. Polluted waterways along the East Coast seeped into the local oyster crops, which became vessels for a species of salmonella linked to typhoid fever. It was the first time in American history that newspapers and radio broadcasters collaborated to warn the public of the health implications of a tainted food source. 

  • 1998 United States Listeriosis Outbreak on Random Deadliest Food-Borne Illness Outbreaks In United States History

    (#4) 1998 United States Listeriosis Outbreak

    The Outbreak: Literia

    The Source: Hot dogs and packaged meat from the Sara Lee Corporation.

    Number of Casualties: 21 (including stillbirths)

    What Happened: Listeria bacterium found in Ball Park hot dogs and deli meats led to a massive recall of 15 million pounds of packaged meats. The outbreak was a national crisis and affected 22 different states. Pregnant women and children were particularly affected, as were the elderly. 

  • 2009 Salmonellosis Outbreak on Random Deadliest Food-Borne Illness Outbreaks In United States History

    (#2) 2009 Salmonellosis Outbreak

    The Outbreak: Salmonella 

    The Source: Peanuts and peanut butter 

    Number of Casualties: 9

    What Happened:Peanut Corporation of America plant located in Georgia was the subject of intense scrutiny after their products were linked to a salmonella outbreak. The plant had a slurry of issues including poor hygiene standards, rodent infestations, and improper roasting of peanuts. These factors all contributed to an outbreak that would eventually take the lives of nine people. The FDA claimed that the corporation knowingly shipped out peanut butter that had tested positive for salmonella. 

  • 1985 California Listeriosis Outbreak on Random Deadliest Food-Borne Illness Outbreaks In United States History

    (#7) 1985 California Listeriosis Outbreak

    The Outbreak: Listeria

    The Source: Mexican-style cheese made with raw, unpasteurized milk.

    Number of Casualties: 62 (including stillbirths)

    What Happened: Jalisco Mexican Products Inc. was responsible for an outbreak that claimed dozens of lives. After receiving a shipment of raw milk from Alta-Dena, unlicensed technicians at Jalisco proceeded to improperly pasteurize the milk. This led to an epidemic of the food-borne illness listeria in Southern California.

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About This Tool

Food-borne disease is the most important public health problem in the world, and it is also a major factor affecting food safety. There have been many foodborne diseases in the United States history. Since food has played a vital role in the development of human civilization and society, once a food-borne disease breaks out and the root cause and solution cannot be found in time, it will soon become a serious deadly disease. 

Many disease outbreaks are closely related to food. You could check the random tool if you want to know more about the deadliest food-borne illness outbreaks in United States history. Welcome to search for other things that you are interested in.

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