May 29, 2024

Foodborne Illnesses Increased in 2018 Compared to 2015-2017

Foodborne illnesses increased in 2018 compared to the period of 2015-2017, according to a new report by the Center for Disease Control for its Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report for the week of April 26, 2019. The report states that this increase may are partially attributable to increased culture-independent diagnostic tests (CIDTs).

Foodborne Illnesses Increased in 2018 Compared to 2015-2017

CIDT identifies pathogens that were not routinely detected by other methods. During 2018, FoodNet identified 25,606 infections, 5,893 hospitalizations, and 120 deaths.

The incidence of cyclospora infections increased “markedly,” in 2018 because there were several large outbreaks associated with produce. And the number of illnesses caused by Campylobacter and Salmonella remain high.

FoodNet surveils the population for lab-diagnosed infections caused by Campylobacter, cyclospora, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), Shigella, Vibrio, and Yersinia in 10 states. This covers about 15% of the U.S. population.

The incidence of infection per 100,000 people was highest for Campylobacter at 19.5, and Salmonella, at 18.3, followed by STEC (5.9), Shigella (4.9), and Vibrio. The incidence of these illnesses increased “significantly” for Cyclospora (399%), Vibrio (109%), Yersinia (58%), STEC (26%), Campylobacter (12%), and Salmonella (9%).

The number of bacteria infections increased 65% in 2018 compared with the average annual number diagnosed during 2015-2017.

Illnesses Linked to Chicken Products 

Campylobacter has been the most commonly diagnosed infection in FoodNet since 2013. Poultry is a major source of Campylobacter. In tests by the USDA, Campylobacter was isolated from 18% of chicken carcasses and 16% of chicken parts sampled.

The incidence of infections with Salmonella Enteritidis has not declined in more than 10 years. This pathogen is adapted to live in poultry. Eggs are an important source for this infection. The Egg Safety Rule, implemented in 2012, is supposed to require preventive measures for all farms with more than 3,000 hens.

In 2018, a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infections was traced back to eggs from a farm that did not implement those safety measures after its size reached more than 3,000 hens.

Chicken meat is another important source of Salmonella Enteritidis infections. In December 2018, the USDA reported that 22% of establishments that produce chicken parts did not meet the Salmonella performance standard.

Illnesses Linked to Produce

Produce is a major source of foodborne illness. The two E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks linked to romaine lettuce in 2018 prove that point, along with the huge increase in Cyclospora outbreaks linked to vegetable trays and McDonald’s salads.

The report states that improved agricultural practices are needed to prevent these illnesses. In 2018, FDA expanded surveillance sampling of foreign and domestically grown produce. And the FDA is implementing the Produce Safety Rule, which was delayed earlier this year.


Foodborne illnesses increased markedly last year. So how does the government plan to reverse this trend? The report recommends that the government should make more efforts to target Campylobacter contamination of chicken and to strengthen prevention measures during egg production, especially within small flocks.

In addition, Salmonella contamination of produce, poultry, and meat should be attempted. Finally, the continued implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act should continue, specifically the FDA’s Produce Safety Rule.


Report Your Food Poisoning Case

Error: Contact form not found.


Home About Site Map Contact Us Sponsored by Pritzker Hageman, P.A., a Minneapolis, MN law firm that helps food poisoning victims nationally.