New CDC Data on Foodborne Disease Outbreaks
Outbreaks 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.
Source: Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System. 2013 is the most recent year for which outbreak data are finalized.
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- 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
- Get 4 expert tips for preventing food poisoning when dining out! Download the poster [236 KB] >
- Montezuma's revenge, Delhi belly, or travelers' diarrhea—whatever you call it, it can ruin your international trip. Help prevent travelers' diarrhea by using CDC's Can I Eat This? app >
- Learn how to investigate foodborne illness outbreaks, identify environmental causes, and recommend appropriate control measures with CDC's fun, free, and interactive e-Learning course. Get started now >
- Search CDC's Foodborne Outbreak Online Database (FOOD) for data on foodborne disease outbreaks reported by state, local, territorial, and tribal health departments since 1998.
Germs and Foods
Agents and foods responsible for the most outbreak-related illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths in 2013 include:
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- Full Reports:
- Individual outbreak data including etiology, locations, and food vehicles:
- Resources on reporting foodborne disease outbreaks for state and local health departments:
- Foodborne disease prevention and current product recalls and alerts:
- Page last reviewed: May 27, 2015
- Page last updated: May 27, 2015
- Content source:
- National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs