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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2013 Aug 15;10(8):3634-52. doi: 10.3390/ijerph10083634.

Foodborne illness incidence rates and food safety risks for populations of low socioeconomic status and minority race/ethnicity: a review of the literature.

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Department of Nutrition Sciences, Drexel University, 1505 Race St., Mail Stop 1030, Philadelphia, PA 19102, USA.


While foodborne illness is not traditionally tracked by race, ethnicity or income, analyses of reported cases have found increased rates of some foodborne illnesses among minority racial/ethnic populations. In some cases (Listeria, Yersinia) increased rates are due to unique food consumption patterns, in other cases (Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter) it is unclear why this health disparity exists. Research on safe food handling knowledge and behaviors among low income and minority consumers suggest that there may be a need to target safe food handling messages to these vulnerable populations. Another possibility is that these populations are receiving food that is less safe at the level of the retail outlet or foodservice facility. Research examining the quality and safety of food available at small markets in the food desert environment indicates that small corner markets face unique challenges which may affect the quality and potential safety of perishable food. Finally, a growing body of research has found that independent ethnic foodservice facilities may present increased risks for foodborne illness. This review of the literature will examine the current state of what is known about foodborne illness among, and food safety risks for, minority and low socioeconomic populations, with an emphasis on the United States and Europe.

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