CDC Report on Foodborne Disease Trends Shows Need for Better Prevention Strategies

Progress has stalled in controlling foodborne pathogens in the United States, according to a new report from the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet).*

FoodNet tracks trends for infections caused by eight pathogens spread commonly through food. Based on preliminary 2019 data, Campylobacter and Salmonella remain the most commonly reported infections in FoodNet. Chicken is an important source of Salmonella infections. Because Salmonella serotype Typhimurium infections declined after widespread vaccination of chickens against this serotype, some investigators think targeting other serotypes through poultry vaccination could be a way to reduce human illnesses.

Recent increases in foodborne illness might be due, in part, to increased testing and improved technologies. Quick and easy culture-independent diagnostic tests continue to reveal infections that might not have been diagnosed in the past because of limited testing. At the same time, whole genome sequencing and other new laboratory technologies have enhanced our ability to identify outbreaks, emerging strains, and sources of infection. Yet, more resources are needed to reach the full potential of these technologies, and targeted approaches to prevention are needed to reduce foodborne illness.

*FoodNet is a collaboration among CDC, 10 state health departments, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FoodNet monitors 10 sites covering 15% of the U.S. population.