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Trends in Foodborne Illness in the United States, 2013

Photo: Basket of groceriesThe nation’s food safety grades are out and the results are mixed. CDC’s annual report shows that foodborne infections continue to be an important public health problem in the United States. More can be done.

CDC's annual report card, produced by the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) shows some recent progress in reducing Salmonella.

Other pathogens have not shown similar success either in the short or long term and we could be losing ground on past progress in E.coli reduction.

There is a critical need to implement more prevention measures and keep a close eye on these trends over the next year.

Highlights from the 2013 FoodNet Report


Infographi: Food Safety Progress Report

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FoodNet Progress Report 
for 2013

Data from FoodNet, which monitors 15 percent of the nation's population, provide the best measure of trends in foodborne disease in the United States. The data compare rates for different time periods.

For the short term, FoodNet compared 2013 with the rates of the preceding three years, 2010-2012. For the longer term, FoodNet compared 2013 with the 2006-2008 baseline period.

See relative rates dating back to FoodNet's beginning in 1996.


Infographic: Changes in incidence of laboratory-confirmed bacterial infections, US, 2013

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Changes in incidence of laboratory-confirmed bacterial infections, US, 2013

  • Salmonella infections decreased by about nine percent in 2013 compared with the previous three years.
    • Rates remained the same when compared to the longer term 2006-2008 baseline period.
    • Still well above the national goal for 2020 of four cases per 100,000 people.
  • Campylobacter infections have risen 13 percent since 2006-2008.
    • Often linked to contaminated chicken.
  • Vibrio infections were at the highest level observed since active tracking began in 1996.
    • Often linked to eating raw shellfish.
    • Rates of Vibrio vulnificus, the most severe strain, have remained steady.
  • E.coli infections continue to inch up and the progress noted from previous years has stalled.
    • Still about 30 percent lower than our FoodNet baseline year of 1996-1998.
  • Rates of the other foodborne infections tracked have not changed since 2006-2008.

Read more about trends in tracking foodborne illness and this year's food safety report card.

Recent efforts and next steps

Most foodborne illnesses can be prevented. But continued efforts are needed to understand how contamination of fresh produce and processed foods occurs and to develop and implement measures that reduce it.

CDC is working with state health departments to develop and implement ways to detect and investigate outbreaks more quickly so that the foods that cause outbreaks are identified quickly and illnesses can be prevented. Farmers, the food industry, regulatory agencies, food service, consumers, and public health authorities all have a role to play in food safety.

What are some recent efforts to reduce foodborne illness?

  • Photo: Food in refrigeratorEstablishment in 2011 of performance standards for Campylobacter contamination of whole broiler chickens in processing plants.
  • Approval of more stringent time and temperature controls for oysters after harvest to prevent Vibrio vulnificus infections.
  • The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011:
    • Gives FDA additional authority to regulate food facilities, establish standards for safe produce, recall contaminated foods, oversee imported foods, and require improvements in surveillance and response to outbreaks; and
    • Calls on CDC to strengthen surveillance and outbreak response.
  • USDA-FSIS' new strategies to address Salmonella contamination in meat and poultry: Salmonella Action Plan.

There are many partners in prevention of foodborne illness, including state and federal public health authorities, the federal food regulatory authorities, the food industry, consumer and patient advocacy groups, and consumers.

Enhanced measures are needed to:

What is FoodNet ? Why do they track trends in foodborne infections?

The Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) collects information to track rates and determine trends in laboratory-confirmed illnesses caused by nine pathogens transmitted commonly through food: Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Listeria, Salmonella, STEC O157 and non-O157, Shigella, Vibrio, and Yersinia. Annual data are compared with data from a recent period (2006–2008) and with data from the preceding three years of surveillance (2010–2012) to measure progress.

FoodNet is a collaboration among CDC, ten state health departments, the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, and the Food and Drug Administration. FoodNet surveillance covers 48 million people, encompassing about 15 percent of the US population. The ten health departments represent the FoodNet surveillance sites and include the states of Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, and Tennessee, and selected counties in California, Colorado, and New York.

Each year, FoodNet reports on the changes in the number of people in the United States sickened with foodborne infections that have been confirmed by laboratory tests. This annual report card also lets CDC, its partners, and policy makers know how much progress has made in reaching national goals for reducing foodborne illness.

Where can I get more information on this report and foodborne illness?


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