Foodborne Illnesses Continue Downward Trend
A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) showed important declines in foodborne infections due to common bacterial pathogens in 2004.
For the first time, cases of E. coli O157 infections, one of the most severe foodborne diseases, are below the national Healthy People 2010 health goal. From 1996-2004, the incidence of E. coli O157 infections decreased 42 percent. Campylobacter infections decreased 31 percent, Cryptosporidium dropped 40 percent, and Yersinia decreased 45 percent.
Overall, Salmonella infections dropped 8 percent, but only one of the five most common strains declined significantly. Different Salmonella strains are found in a variety of animal hosts and in different geographic locations. Further efforts are needed to better understand why some Salmonella strains tend to contaminate produce during production and harvest. FDA has recently developed a plan to decrease foodborne illnesses associated with fresh produce. To better control foodborne pathogens in animals and plants, prevention efforts should be implemented across the farm to table continuum.
"This report is good news for Americans and underscores the importance of investments in food safety.