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New CDC Data on Foodborne Disease Outbreaks

Family enjoying picnicOutbreaks provide important insights into how germs spread, which food and germ combinations make people sick, and how to prevent food poisoning. Public health and industry use outbreak data to create information on prevention, education, and policy.

CDC has a long history of summarizing outbreak reports from local and state health departments. CDC also collects outbreak data and makes it available to the public. Tracking and reporting outbreak data is the first step towards prevention.

Highlights of 2013 Surveillance Report

The data from this report helps show the human impact of foodborne disease outbreaks.

Photo of vegetables and fruits: Foodborne Disease Outbreaks, 2013 - 818 outbreaks reported, 13,360 illnesses, 1,062 hospitalizations, 16 deaths.

Source: Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System. 2013 is the most recent year for which outbreak data are finalized.
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Main Findings

  • In 2013, 818 foodborne disease outbreaks were reported, resulting in 13,360 illnesses, 1,062 hospitalizations, 16 deaths, and 14 food recalls.
  • Outbreaks caused by Salmonella increased 39% from 2012 (113) to 2013 (157). Outbreak-associated hospitalizations caused by Salmonella increased 38% from 2012 (454) to 2013 (628).
  • Fish (50 outbreaks), mollusks (23), chicken (21), and dairy (21), with 17 due to unpasteurized dairy products) were the most common single food categories implicated in outbreaks.
  • The most common causes of outbreaks were norovirus (35% of reported outbreaks) and Salmonella (34% of reported outbreaks).

Setting of Outbreaks

Among the outbreaks with a single known food preparation setting, foods were prepared most- commonly at or by:

  • Restaurants, specifically sit-down dining style restaurants: 60% of outbreaks
  • Caterers or banquet facilities: 14% of outbreaks
  • Homes: 12% of outbreaks
Graphic: Protect Yourself when Eating Out. Four tips to prevent food poisoning.

Germs and Foods

Agents and foods responsible for the most outbreak-related illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths in 2013 include:

  • Illnesses
    • Salmonella in chicken (700 illnesses)
    • Salmonella in pork (436 illnesses)
    • Salmonella in seeded vegetables (268 illnesses)
    • Salmonella in beef (210 illnesses)
    • Norovirus in fruits (196 illnesses)
  • Hospitalizations
    • Salmonella in chicken (213 hospitalizations)
    • Hepatitis A in fruits (71 hospitalizations)
    • Salmonella in pork (65 hospitalizations)
    • Escherichia coli, Shiga toxin-producing in vegetable row crops (63 hospitalizations)
    • Salmonella in seeded vegetables (44 hospitalizations)
  • Deaths
    • Listeria in dairy (3 deaths)
    • Escherichia coli, Shiga toxin-producing in vegetable row crops (1 death)
    • Norovirus in fruits (1 death)
    • Salmonella in fruits (1 death)
    • Salmonella in nuts and seeds (1 death)
    • Vibrio cholerae in mollusks (1 death)

Among the 210 outbreaks attributed to a food composed of ingredients from a single food category, the categories most often implicated were:

  • Fish (24%)
  • Mollusks (11%)
  • Chicken (10%)
  • Dairy (10%, nearly all unpasteurized)

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