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Produce Consumption in the United States: An Analysis of Consumption Frequencies, Serving Sizes, Processing Forms, and High-Consuming Population Subgroups for Microbial Risk Assessments

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A great variety of fruits and vegetables are available in the United States. These items are produced in various geographic regions by a diverse industry. Produce has been increasingly identified as a vehicle for disease outbreaks. Changes in consumption may explain this increase, but analyses of produce consumption are limited. Comprehensive assessments of the public health risks associated with produce depend on quantitative consumption data, including the population fractions and subgroups of consumers, the quantities consumed by these individuals, and the processing that occurs before consumption. Here, we provide an analysis of nationally representative consumption estimates by estimating consumption frequencies, serving sizes, and processing forms for a variety of produce commodities based on 1999 through 2006 data from “What We Eat in America,” the dietary interview component of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey performed by the National Center for Health Statistics. Consumption patterns for fresh and heat-treated produce were assessed, compared with U.S. food availability estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (ERS), and combined with ERS data on temporal trends in food availability and nondomestic produce origins. To identify high-consuming population subgroups, we explored consumer habits and demographic predictors of fresh produce consumption (data available at Our analysis of common outbreak vehicles revealed limited temporal changes in food availability but frequent consumption as fresh commodities. In addition to providing quantitative consumption estimates for risk assessments, our data clearly show that produce consumption differs among fruits and vegetables, fresh and heat-treated foods, and demographic subgroups. These results are valuable for risk assessments and outbreak investigations and allow targeting of risk communication or interventions to those individuals at greatest risk.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 5100 Paint Branch Parkway, College Park, Maryland 20740, USA. 2: Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 5100 Paint Branch Parkway, College Park, Maryland 20740, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2012

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    The Journal of Food Protection (JFP) is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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