Stories From the Field
Surveillance Finds the Culprit
What do ground beef, leafy greens, unpasteurized apple juice, and raw cookie dough have in common? They all have been associated with one of the most lethal, and now one of the best known, foodborne pathogens—E. coli. Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (often shortened to STEC O157 or E. coli O157) captured media attention in the United States in the 1990s after outbreaks of infections caused widespread sickness and even death.
After CDC and its partners launched FoodNet in 1996, studies began linking sporadic cases of foodborne illness caused by E. coli to ground beef. When regulators and industry leaders started using CDC data to improve food handling and production standards, the incidence of E. coli-associated illness in foods such as ground beef, raw juice, and leafy greens rapidly declined. So much so that in 2009, the Healthy People 2010 goal of reducing infections caused by E. coli, was reached 1 year early.
For the original story and more information, see Food Safety: What CDC has done…what CDC is doing [PDF - 2 pages].