January 16, 2018

CFA Says Little Progress in Reducing Foodborne Illness

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released their annual report on the incidence of foodborne illness in the United States on Tuesday. It shows there has been little progress made on the prevention of food poisoning outbreaks in recent years. Salmonella and Campylobacter are the two bacteria that cause the most illness. Progress in reducing illness caused by E. coli O157:H7 bacteria has stalled.

CDC-2013-FBI-reportThe data showed an increase in Campylobacter infections, but there was a small decrease in Salmonella illnesses when compared to 2010-2012. But Christopher Waldrop, Director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) said, “for most pathogens, we haven’t really been able to move the needle win recent years. The decrease in Salmonella illnesses is positive, but it’s too early to tell if that will be sustained.”

Salmonella and Campylobacter cause a lot of illness among older adults and children under the age of five. The incidence of Salmonella infections is 15.19 cases per 100,000 population, which is much higher than the 2020 National Health Objective of 11.40 cases per 100,000 population.

Salmonella and Campylobacter infections are associated with raw or undercooked poultry; most of that is sold as parts. USDA’s FSIS found high contamination rates from those two bacteria on poultry parts in a 2012 baseline study. While the government is developing a Salmonella performance plan, outbreaks such as the Foster Farms chicken outbreak, which is ongoing after a year, shows there is much work to do.

Unfortunately, E. coli O157:H7 infections may be increasing. Non-O157:H7 STEC bacteria, which were recently declared contaminants by the government, are also trending upwards. And there is no progress on cases of listeriosis, caused by the Listeria monocytogenes bacterium.

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