Burden of Foodborne Illness: Overview

Surveillance systems and surveys provide vital information about the burden of foodborne illness in the United States, but they do not capture every illness. Because only a fraction of illnesses are diagnosed and reported, we need periodic assessments of the total burden of illness to set public health goals, allocate resources, and measure the economic impact of disease. Therefore, we estimate. We use the best data available and make reasonable adjustments—based on surveys, study results, and statistical methods—to account for shortcomings and missing pieces of information.

Foodborne illness estimates help us understand an important public health problem

CDC estimates 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases each year in the United States.

The 2011 estimates provide the most accurate picture yet of which foodborne pathogens (bacteria, viruses, and parasites) are causing the most illnesses in the United States, and also estimate the number of foodborne illnesses without a known cause. These estimates are the first comprehensive estimates since 1999, and are the first ever to estimate illnesses caused solely by foods eaten in the United States.

See the estimates of foodborne illness >

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