New data shows reductions in foodborne illnesses

Meat, poultry industry efforts focus on further improvements.

Krissa Welshans 1, Feedstuffs Editor

May 19, 2015

2 Min Read
New data shows reductions in foodborne illnesses

Newly released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2014 data showed rates of infection from E. coli O157 and one of the more common Salmonella serotypes decreased by about one-third compared with the baseline period of 2006-2008. However, some of the other less common types of Salmonella, Campylobacter and Vibrio rose again in 2014, continuing the increase observed during the past few years. Campylobacter increased 13% and Vibrio increased 52% compared with 2006-2008.

Overall in 2014, FoodNet logged just over 19,000 infections, about 4,400 hospitalizations, and 71 deaths from the nine foodborne germs it tracks. Salmonella and Campylobacter were by far the most common, accounting for about 14,000 of the 19,000 infections reported.

"We are encouraged by the reduction of STEC O157:H7 illnesses, which reflects our science-based approach to beef inspection, and we look forward to seeing further reductions in Salmonella and Campylobacter infections as our improved standards for poultry take effect later this year, " said Al Almanza, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA. "Data sources like FoodNet allow us to be strategic in developing our food safety policies, and we will do everything within our power to keep reducing cases of foodborne illness from all meat and poultry products."

The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) was pleased with the recent data, but emphasized the need for more work to decrease foodborne illness rates from all foods.

“The CDC data is another strong indication that industry and government efforts are working to reduce foodborne illnesses from major pathogens of concern which is consistent with major declines in pathogen rates we’ve seen on meat and poultry products in recent years,” said Betsy Booren, Ph.D., NAMI vice president of scientific affairs. “We’re committed to working with the government to continue these improvements and seek out ways to lower foodborne illnesses across all foods.”

Recent reductions in pathogen rates on meat and poultry products include a 93% reduction of E. coli O157:H7 in ground beef since 2000, significant reductions in Salmonella across a majority of meat and poultry products and a greater than 80% reduction in Listeria monocytogenes in ready-eat-meat products. In fact, NAMI said there has not been a federal recall related to listeriosis associated with meat and poultry products in more than a decade.

NAMI said industry’s efforts have complemented the work of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), affirming a common goal of a safe meat and poultry supply. 

“The efforts of industry and government together have yielded real and measurable benefits for America’s public health,” Dr. Booren said.  “We can continue to improve with further research into the relationships between pathogen reductions and foodborne illness rates to determine the true risks from foods.”

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