To the Editor:
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, is telling us [to quote the editorial column "76 Million Illnesses," SN, Nov. 1, 1999], "that each year 76 million people fall ill from their food, 325,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 die." I join you in questioning those numbers.
Whenever a food product that causes some illness hits the grocery shelves or restaurants, a national hysteria grips the country. The recall process is set in motion. The press rings the alarm bell. Something like that is too sensational for them to miss. It's sad to acknowledge that in recent years the media has made us aware of a handful of death; maybe a dozen, maybe 25. But 5,000? How did the media miss all of those stories? If 5,000 people were dying each year, the USDA and FDA would be recalling half the food in the country. I just can't believe that so many deaths would attract so little attention.
The CDC is just guessing. I don't think many people get up in the morning wondering if they will be able to find any safe food to eat.