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CDC Report Points to Need for New Foodborne Illness Strategies

For Immediate Release: April 10, 2008


Contact: CDC, Division of Media Relations
404-639-3286



A 10-state report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed little change in the incidence of some foodborne infections after a period of decline.

The findings are from 2007 data reported to the CDC as part of the agency′s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, FoodNet. FoodNet monitors foodborne disease and conducts related epidemiologic studies to help health officials better understand the epidemiology of foodborne diseases in the United States. Although the FoodNet population is similar to the U.S. population, the findings are used to detect trends in foodborne illness and should not be generalized for the entire U.S. population.

Campylobacter, Listeria, Salmonella, Shigella, E.coli O157, Vibrio, and Yersinia did not decline significantly, and the estimated incidence of Cryptosporidium increased when compared with the previous three years (2004-2006). Although there have been significant declines in the incidence of some foodborne infections since surveillance began in 1996, these declines all occurred before 2004.

“The results show that prevention efforts have been partly successful, but there has been little further progress in the most recent years,” said Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of CDC′s Division of Foodborne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases. ‘ ‘More needs to be done to make our food safer. We are constantly working to help our public health system better detect, investigate and control outbreaks and to understand how to prevent foodborne illnesses from happening in the first place. FoodNet is an important part of our food safety system and is how we measure progress.”

“FoodNet is an important public health surveillance tool,” according to Faye Feldstein, acting director of the Federal Drug Adminstration′s (FDA) Office of Food Defense. “FDA will continue to support this important endeavor and is committed to pursuing strategies to reduce all foodborne illness. FDA′s Food Protection Plan represents a major new initiative that is heavily focused on prevention linked to targeted intervention and rapid response that is taking a production to consumption approach to addressing protection of the food supply”

Consumers can reduce their risk for foodborne illness by following safe food-handling recommendations and by avoiding the consumption of unpasteurized milk, raw or undercooked oysters, raw or undercooked eggs, raw or undercooked ground beef, and undercooked poultry. The risk for foodborne illness can also be decreased by choosing in-shell pasteurized eggs, irradiated ground meat, and high pressure-treated oysters.

The full report, “Preliminary FoodNet Data on the Incidence of Infection with Pathogens Transmitted Commonly Through Food – 10 States, United States, 2007” appears in this week′s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (April 11, 2008) and is available online at www.cdc.gov/mmwr. To learn more about FoodNet, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/foodnet/. To learn more about foodborne infections, visit http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/foodborneinfections_g.htm.

FoodNet Background

In 1996, the FoodNet surveillance system began collecting valuable information to quantify, monitor, and track the incidence of laboratory confirmed cases of foodborne illnesses caused by Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, E. coli O157, Listeria, Salmonella, Shigella, Yersinia and Vibrio. FoodNet is a collaborative effort among CDC, the FDA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state surveillance sites. Since its inception, FoodNet has grown to include 10 states and 45 million people, about 15 percent of the American population. The states are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Tennessee.

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