A report and policy brief released today identifies the Top 10 riskiest combinations of foods and disease-causing bugs, a finding that will help the FDA, USDA and other agencies do a better job when it comes to keeping the nation’s food supply safe.

Screen shot 2011-04-28 at 9.04.47 AM.pngScreen shot 2011-04-28 at 9.05.12 AM.pngThe Top 10 list, by researchers at the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute, is the first to rank not just pathogens (bugs like Salmonella) but the combinations of foods and pathogens that cause significant outbreaks of illness, high costs and long-term complications.

Some key findings and recommendations of the report include:

• The Top 10 pathogen-food combinations cost the United States an estimated $8 billion a year.

• Salmonella is the leading pathogen, causing the largest number of hospitalizations, the greatest number of deaths and the highest cost burden. The report recommends that FDA and USDA develop a joint initiative to target Salmonella, which is found in a wide variety of foods.

• The researchers recommend that federal, state and local agencies coordinate their efforts and target the biggest food safety problems, including the Top 10 list.