Report: Foodborne illness drops by almost half in decade

SalmonellaGrn_blkbkgrd_blogFoodborne illness outbreaks fell by more than 40 percent from 2001 to 2010, according to a study released this week.

Much of the decrease can be attributed to improved food safety practices, including the implementation of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans. However, the trend may also reflect foodborne illnesses being underreported, as public health agencies become more financially strained, the Center for Science in Public Interest notes in a statement.

Additionally, many people don’t go to the doctor for minor cases of foodborne illness, which makes it difficult to track precisely how many people are affected. Fully investigated outbreaks, meaning the source and pathogen responsible for the outbreak are identified, also have been on the decline from 46 percent of outbreaks in 2001 to 33 percent in 2010.

The Center looked at more than 4,200 outbreaks between 2001 and 2010, which resulted in more than 106,000 illnesses. During this time, outbreaks related to beef, poultry and seafood declined the most.

Each year, 48 million Americans are sickened by foodborne pathogens – roughly one in six. About 128,000 will be hospitalized and about 3,000 die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In recent years, food safety has been at the forefront of public and legislative attention. In 2011, President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act, or FSMA, the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. food safety since the early 20th century.

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