Contaminated Food Illness: No Overall Progress in 7 Years

Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Salmonella (photo: National Institutes of Health)

The U.S. has made little progress in reducing food poisoning incidents over the last seven years, according to federal health officials.


Last year, 19,531 cases of contaminated food illness were reported, resulting in about 4,563 hospitalizations and 68 deaths. These numbers were not much different from those reported between 2006 and 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported.


With no change coming, about 48 million Americans can expect to experience food poisoning each year.


The most commonly diagnosed cases stem from salmonella (7,800 cases and 33 deaths), which comes from the feces of chickens and other animals and contaminates water and produce. The deadliest pathogen was listeria, with 13 of 121 cases resulting in death. In 2011, an outbreak of listeriosis, caused by cantaloupe from Jensen Farms in Holly, Colorado, led to the deaths of 30 people, making it the worst food-borne outbreak in more than 25 years.


In 2012, food-borne illnesses derived from eating tainted oysters, crabs and prawns (known as vibrio) increased by 43% compared to 2006-2008.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky


To Learn More:

Food Illness-Decline Stalls as Safety Rules Arrive Late (by Stephanie Armour, Bloomberg)

Number of U.S. Foodborne Illness Cases Stalled: CDC (Health Day News)

Incidence and Trends of Infection with Pathogens Transmitted Commonly Through Food — Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, 10 U.S. Sites, 1996–2012 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Leafy Greens Leading Source of Food Poisoning; Bad Chicken Leading Source of Death (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Obama Administration Slow to Implement Food Safety Law (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Food Safety Inspectors Object to Allowing Poultry Companies to do Their Own Inspections (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Contaminated Food Costs U.S. More Than $14 Billion a Year (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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