Food Safety

The Problem

CDC estimates that each year, roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die due to foodborne diseases.1 Risk for infection and severity varies at different ages and stages of health.4

More about the problem

Diseases spread by contaminated foods continue to challenge the public health system. Bacteria, viruses, parasites, and chemicals can cause foodborne diseases, which can vary from mild to fatal.1 Robust surveillance for these diseases is essential for detecting outbreaks. It also provides critical information to food regulatory agencies and the food industry so that appropriate control and preventive measures can be implemented.2

The Prevention Status Reports (PSRs) highlight—for all 50 states and the District of Columbia—the status of select practices that can help states prevent or reduce foodborne illness. These practices include

These practices have been recommended by the Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response on the basis of scientific evidence supporting their effectiveness in improving foodborne disease surveillance and detection.3

Policies & Practices

Speed of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) testing of reported E. coli O157 cases

Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, or PFGE, is a technique used to distinguish between strains of organisms at the DNA level. Speed of PFGE testing is defined as the annual proportion of E. coli O157 PFGE patterns reported to CDC (i.e., uploaded into PulseNet, the CDC-coordinated national molecular subtyping network for foodborne disease surveillance) within four working days of receiving the isolate in the state public health PFGE lab.

The CDC Public Health Emergency Preparedness Cooperative Agreement provides federal funding to states and establishes a national performance target of testing 90% of reported E. coli O157 cases within four days. Performing DNA fingerprinting as quickly as possible for all Shiga toxin-producing E. coli improves detection of outbreaks. Rapid outbreak detection can help prevent additional cases and can help identify control and prevention measures for food regulatory agencies and the food industry.2

Status of the speed of PFGE testing of reported E. coli O157 cases, United States (2011)

Note: Data corrected February 10, 2015.

States were rated green, yellow, or red according to the following criteria:

Green

In 2011, the state reported >90.0% of new E. coli O157 cases within 4 days of receiving the isolate in the state public health PFGE lab.

Yellow

In 2011, the state reported 60.0%–89.9% of new E. coli O157 cases within 4 days of receiving the isolate in the state public health PFGE lab.

Red

In 2011, the state reported <60.0% of new E. coli O157 cases within 4 days of receiving the isolate in the state public health PFGE lab.

Completeness of PFGE testing of reported Salmonella cases

Completeness of PFGE testing of reported Salmonella cases is defined as the annual proportion of Salmonella cases reported to CDC’s National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS) with PFGE patterns uploaded into PulseNet. Research and experts in the field agree that performing DNA fingerprinting of all Salmonella cases would improve detection of outbreaks.2

Status of the completeness of PFGE testing of reported Salmonella cases, United States (2011)

Bar chart showing Status of the completeness of PFGE testing of reported Salmonella cases, United States (2011). Green: In 44 states, ≥90.0% of Salmonella cases were tested by PFGE. Yellow: In 6 states, 60.0%–89.9% of Salmonella cases were tested by PFGE. Red: In 1 state, <60.0% of Salmonella cases were tested by PFGE. (State count includes the District of Columbia.)

(State count includes the District of Columbia.)

States were rated green, yellow, or red according to the following criteria:

Green

In 2011, the state reported >90.0% of the state’s new Salmonella cases to NNDSS with PFGE patterns uploaded into PulseNet.

Yellow

In 2011, the state reported 60.0%–89.9% of the state’s new Salmonella cases to NNDSS with PFGE patterns uploaded into PulseNet.

Red

In 2011, the state reported <60% of the state’s new Salmonella cases to NNDSS with PFGE patterns uploaded into PulseNet.

Prevention Status Reports: Food Safety, 2013

The files below are PDFs ranging in size from 100K to 500K. Adobe PDF document

Note: An erratum for the indicator entitled “Speed of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) testing of reported E. coli O157 cases,” has been published for North Carolina.

References

  1. Scallan E, Hoekstra RM, Angulo FJ, et al. Foodborne illness acquired in the United States—major pathogens. Emerging Infectious Diseases 2011;17:7–15.
  2. Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response. Guidelines for Foodborne Disease Outbreak Response. Atlanta, GA: Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists; 2009.
  3. Lund BM, O’Brien SJ. The occurrence and prevention of foodborne disease in vulnerable peopleexternal icon. Foodborne Pathogens and Disease 2011;8:961–73.
  4. Scallan E, Griffin FM, Angulo FJ, et al. Foodborne illness acquired in the United States—unspecified agents. Emerging Infectious Diseases 2011;17:16–22.
Page last reviewed: January 21, 2014