Australian outbreak data shows Salmonella typhimurium is the biggest offender

The latest foodborne illness outbreak data is in from OzFoodNet, a tracking network organized by Australia’s Department of Health.

The report shows that in 2012, 2,117 people in Australia were affected by foodborne illness outbreaks, resulting in nine deaths and 183 hospitalizations. Exactly 144 outbreaks led to these numbers, 47 of them recorded in the state New South Wales.

The biggest offender: Salmonella typhimurium, involved in a fifth of the outbreaks. Other major culprits were norovirus, other Salmonella serotypes, Campylobacter, Clostridium perfringens and histamine, a toxin produced by certain kinds of fish as they decay, which causes scombroid poisoning.

Restaurants were linked to 71 of the outbreaks, by far the most frequently reported origin point. Private residences followed with 18 outbreaks. In 60 of the outbreaks, just one food item was determined to be responsible. Of these outbreaks, 28 were linked to raw or undercooked eggs.

The economic costs factored by the report were staggering. The report estimates 4.1 million cases of foodborne illness each year (not necessarily tied to outbreaks), which would cost about $1.2 billion AUD ($900 million USD).

Why is the 2012 data being published in 2018? Australian authorities told Food Safety News that this report aims to help observe years of trends, not alert the public to real-time concerns.

“Annual and quarterly reports provide an epidemiological snapshot of activity during the reporting period and a view of long term trends,” the agency said. “In addition to the quarterly and annual OzFoodNet Reports, the Australian Government Department of Health makes data available on disease potentially transmitted by food in Australia in multiple, more timely forms, including through the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System.”

You can read the report yourself online right here.

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