A newly published report on foodborne illnesses in the country indicates that eating out drastically increases the likelihood of getting food poisoning compared to eating at home. 

The latest report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) entitled "Outbreak Alert! 2014" shows that dining in restaurants increases the odds of food poisoning by approximately two times compared to eating a home cooked meal. 

The report's findings show that between the years 2002 and 2011, over 28,000 people suffered from food poisoning due to eating in restaurants. The report also mentioned that these 28,000 cases were directly linked to 1,610 recorded outbreaks of foodborne illnesses in various restaurants across the country. In comparison, only 12,980 people suffered from foodborne illnesses in 893 recorded outbreaks in American homes during the same timeframe. However, it is important to note that getting to the bottom of many other outbreaks proved increasingly difficult for public health agencies and organizations. This means that there is a lack of data on a significant number of foodborne outbreaks.

The CSPI also found that components and ingredients derived from raw milk was a major cause of a relatively large number of outbreaks. CSPI researchers found that 70 percent of all 104 milk-related outbreaks could be directly linked to raw milk.

"Pasteurization of milk is one of the most important public health advances of the last 100 years, sparing countless people from infections and deaths caused by Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria," said Sarah Klein, a senior food safety attorney from the CSPI. "Consumers should avoid raw milk, and lawmakers should not expand its availability."

Another worrying trend discovered by the CSPI involves a marked decrease in the number of reported outbreaks. While this may seem like a good thing at first glance, the SCPI is concerned that the diminishing number of reported outbreaks was caused by the diversion of funding from public health programs to solving other problems such as bioterrorism and influenza outbreaks. Moreover, the public health budget was also affected by the recent recession a few years ago.

"Underreporting of outbreaks has reached epidemic proportions," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, the CSPI director for food safety. "Yet the details gleaned from outbreak investigations provide essential information so public health officials can shape food safety policy and make science-based recommendations to consumers. Despite the improvements in food safety policy in the past decade, far too many Americans still are getting sick, being hospitalized, or even dying due to contaminated food."

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