Background: This analysis used data from the most recent Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) Population Survey (May 2006 through April 2007) to examine differences in the consumption of various types of foods between men and women.
Methods: Participants were surveyed by telephone and asked whether or not they had consumed certain foods in the past 7 days, including the following "high-risk" foods commonly associated with foodborne illness: pink hamburger, raw oysters, unpasteurized milk, cheese made from unpasteurized milk, runny eggs, and alfalfa sprouts. Data were weighted to adjust for survey design and to reflect the age and sex distribution of the population under FoodNet surveillance.
Results: A total of 14 878 persons ≥ 18 years were interviewed, of whom 5688 (38%) were men. A higher proportion of men reported eating meat and certain types of poultry than women, whereas a higher proportion of women ate fruits and vegetables. A higher proportion of men than women reported consuming runny eggs (12% versus 8%), pink hamburger (7% versus 4%), and raw oysters (2% versus 0.4%). A higher proportion of women than men ate alfalfa sprouts (3% versus 2%). No differences by sex were observed for consumption of unpasteurized milk or cheese.
Conclusions: Data from the FoodNet Population Surveys can be useful in efforts to design targeted interventions regarding consumption of high-risk foods. Moreover, understanding the background rates of food consumption, stratified by sex, may help investigators identify the kinds of foods likely to be associated with outbreaks in which a preponderance of cases occur among members of one sex.