CDC Report Shows Foodborne Infections ‘Plateau’

A 10-state report released late last week by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows little change in the incidence of key foodborne infections for 2008 vs. the preceding three years. The findings are from 2008 data reported to the agency as part of its Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, FoodNet.
“Progress has plateaued,” Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the CDC division of Foodborne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, was quoted as saying in press reports. "This indicates to us further measures are needed to prevent future illness."

Campylobacter, listeria, salmonella, shigella, E.coli O157, vibrio and yersinia did not change significantly when compared to the previous three years, according to the report, which also notes that although there have been significant declines in the incidence of some foodborne infections since surveillance began in 1996, the declines all occurred before 2004.

In an “editorial note,” the report comments that efforts to reduce contamination in meat and poultry are ongoing, and cites a 2006 Food Safety and Inspection Service program aimed at preventing salmonella contamination of meat and poultry.

The report additionally says that “industry response to the program has resulted in a decrease in the percent positive rate for salmonella in raw broiler chickens from 11.4 percent in 2006 to 7.3 percent in 2008.”

The full report, “Preliminary FoodNet Data on the Incidence of Infection with Pathogens Transmitted Commonly Through Food -- 10 States, United States, 2007” appears in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (April 10, 2009) and is available online at ?s_cid=mm5813a2_e or .