Food Nation

Texas Lousy at Reporting Food Poisoning, Study Says

You'll never know what gets you in Texas
Between tainted peanuts and fatal spinach, we feel like there have been a lot of Texas food scares lately. But it's the stuff we don't hear about that gave Texas a failing grade in a new study of how states report icky food outbreaks.

If you live in Texas and eat food, you will probably die, or at least become violently ill. That's what we're taking away from a study that gives the Lone Star state an "F" in reporting outbreaks of foodborne illness.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest studied ten years' worth of CDC data and decided that the more reporting of such outbreaks a state has, the more likely it is to have a swift-acting, effective public health system.

Because Texas only reported an average of one outbreak per one million people, we apparently blow. Our fellow flunkies in the back row include Arizona, Arkansas, Nevada, Indiana and Kentucky, and eight others. Wyoming, home to a few dozen people and a shitload of cattle, got an "A."

"These findings suggest that many states lack adequate funding for public health services, leading to health departments that are overburdened and understaffed," the report states. "The result is decreased outbreak investigation and detection and an incomplete picture of foodborne illness across the country."

If you're a Texan and want to know the specific pathogen that will inevitably worm its way into your system and make you vomit uncontrollably, it will most likely be salmonella. That foul bacteria accounted for 15 percent of the reported outbreaks. However, two percent of you will probably eat a mouthful of listeria, then come down with listeriosis and then die.

But don't pack your bags for an "A" state like Minnesota just yet: states with higher grades don't mean fewer cases of food-cooties. You'll probably die there as well -- it's just that there's a better chance some dude at the CDC will find out about it. Bon appétit.

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Contributor Craig Malisow covers crooks, quacks, animal abusers, elected officials, and other assorted people for the Houston Press.
Contact: Craig Malisow