Understanding food consumption habits may help identify
foods that are associated with outbreaks of foodborne diseases, researchers
“Men and women have different habits of food
consumption,” Beletshachew Shiferaw, MD, MPH,of the Oregon Public
Health Division, told Infectious Disease News. “More women than men
said they eat fruits and vegetables, and more men than women said they eat
meat. In an outbreak investigation, food consumption pattern of the affected
group can be compared to the general population to examine if there are
differences that merit further investigation.”
Shiferaw and colleagues conducted a study from May 2006
to April 2007 that included data from the Foodborne Diseases Active
Surveillance Network Population Survey. They analyzed differences in food
consumption between men and women.
Participants (n=14,878; 38% male) took part in a
telephone survey that established what they had consumed in the previous days.
They were asked particularly about high-risk foods that often are associated
with foodborne illness: pink hamburger, raw oysters, unpasteurized milk, cheese
made from unpasteurized milk, runny eggs and alfalfa sprouts.
Men were more likely to have eaten meat and certain
poultry items vs. women, but more women ate fruits and vegetables. More men ate
runny eggs, pink hamburger and raw oysters, but more women ate alfalfa sprouts.
There was no difference in the consumption of unpasteurized milk and cheese.
“These data can be used to target health education
and also can be used in outbreak investigation,” Shiferaw said. “Our
study did not examine frequency and quantity of food consumption, and future
studies should examine this. Also, future studies can look further and
determine why there is a difference in food consumption between men and
Shiferaw B. Clin Infect Dis. 2012;54:S453-S457.
Dr. Shiferaw reports no relevant