CDC and Food Safety: CDC Report on Foodborne Disease Trends Shows Need for Targeted Interventions

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Targeted prevention measures are needed to address persistent problems with infections linked to certain bacteria and foods, according to an article published today in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Preliminary 2018 data from the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) covers eight germs spread commonly through food. The report also calls for continued improvement in laboratory practices that make it possible to find foodborne disease outbreaks and inform treatment for antibiotic-resistant infections.

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Campylobactermost often linked to chicken, has been the most commonly reported infection in FoodNet since 2013. Salmonella is the second most common infection, and the incidence of infection has not declined in recent years. Notably, infections caused by Salmonella Enteritidis have not declined in more than 10 years, despite regulatory programs intended to reduce Salmonella in chicken and eggs, both of which are important sources. FoodNet also reported a large increase in Cyclospora infections, in part related to outbreaks associated with produce, another major source of foodborne illness. Targeted measures are needed on produce farms, food animal farms, and in meat and poultry processing establishments to make food safer and decrease human illnesses, according to the FoodNet report.

Recent increases in foodborne illness might be due in part to increased testing. Culture-independent diagnostic tests (CIDTs) continue to make testing easier, revealing infections that likely would not have been diagnosed in the past because of limited testing. However, traditional culture methods still provide critical information to detect outbreaks, monitor disease trends, and target control measures. Specimens with positive CIDT results are being cultured, but many are not.

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