October 26, 2016

Most Food Poisoning Outbreaks Not Made Public

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is out with a new report about food poisoning outbreaks in 2013. There were 818 food poisoning outbreaks that year, 26 of them were multistate, but only seven of those appearing on the list were made public in 2013.

cdc_logo1The CDC defines an outbreak as two or more illnesses caused by the same source. The 818 outbreaks resulted in 13,360 illnesses, 1,062 hospitalizations, 16 deaths and 14 recalls. The 26 multistate outbreaks resulted in 1,530 illnesses, 403 hospitalizations and seven deaths.  The seven multistate outbreaks that the CDC made public in 2013, resulted in 1,092 illnesses, 313 hospitalizations and two deaths.

Comparing the multistate outbreaks listed in the new report to those disclosed is a little tricky. On its website, the CDC lists multistate outbreaks by the year in which they were announced.This report, lists outbreaks that began in 2013.

In 2013,  11 multistate outbreaks were announced. Three of them were left off this report because they began in 2012. They were: the Farm Rich E. coli outbreak, the first Foster Farms Salmonella outbreak and a Salmonella outbreak linked to ground beef produced by Gab Halal Foods and Jouni Meats. And one outbreak that was announced in 2014, Salmonella in raw cashew cheese, was included because it began in 2013.

It is unclear why the fourth outbreak announced in 2013 is missing from the list.  It began in 2013 and all of the illnesses took place in 2013. It was a Vibrio outbreak linked to shellfish that sickened 104 people in 13 states, hospitalizing six of them.

Another change is that the CDC website lists a 2013 Cyclospsora outbreak as having sickened 631 people in 25 states, hospitalizing 49 of them. The report represents that outbreak as sickening 161 people in two states, with 10 hospitalized. At the time of the outbreak, only three states were able to identify the contaminated food source. Texas linked its illnesses to cilantro, Iowa and Nebraska linked their to a bagged salad mix used by restaurants. The report includes only  Iowa and Nebraska’s cases.

Of the 26 multistate outbreaks in the report, 11 were caused by Salmonella; Vibrio parahaemolyticus,  shiga toxin-producing E. coli and Listeria each caused four; and hepatitis A,  Cyclospora cayetanensis, and niacin were each the source of one outbreak.

The implicated foods included cherry and grape tomatoes, chicken, cucumber, ground beef, papaya, pistachios, pork, raw cashew cheese, sugarcane, tahini, tilapia fish, prepackaged leafy greens, romaine lettuce, salmon, an unspecified lettuce,  pasteurized Latin-style soft cheese, pasteurized French-style semi-soft cheese,  raw oysters, raw clams, steamed clams, infused rice products, and pomegranate seeds.





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