Estimates of Foodborne Illness in the United States

Holding hands in the hospital

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

Stacked petri dishes

CDC provides estimates for two major groups of foodborne illnesses – known pathogens and unspecified agents. Learn about our methods.

Boy sick in hospial bed

CDC estimates that unspecified agents cause 38.4 million episodes of foodborne illness in the United States each year.


Determining the sources of foodborne illnesses is an important step in developing prevention measures.

CDC’s estimates of the burden of foodborne illness in the United States provide the most accurate picture of known pathogens and unspecified agents causing foodborne illness in the United States.

These estimates serve as a foundation for food safety by allowing us to answer important questions, such as:

By estimating the burden of foodborne illness and attributing illnesses to specific food sources, CDC, regulatory agencies, industry, consumer groups, and others can better target prevention measures and improve food safety in the United States.