On the heels of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announcement introducing pilot programs to improve methods of identifying sources of tainted food, comes news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the latest data shows a decline in food-borne outbreaks and related illnesses.
The outbreaks caused 23,152 cases of illness, nearly 1,300 hospitalizations, and 22 deaths. But because most food-borne illnesses go unreported, the actual numbers are much higher. The CDC estimates that contaminated food causes as many as 48 million illnesses annually.
According to the CDC, a food-borne outbreak occurs when two or more cases of a similar illness are caused by a common food. An average of 24 such outbreaks were reported from each state or territory in 2008.
The total number of outbreaks was 10% less than the average number reported from 2003 to 2007. The number of outbreak-related illnesses in 2008 was also lower, by 5%.
Overall, Salmonella (pictured above) lead the pathogen pack in causing the most illnesses and deaths. The CDC offers several tips for preventing food contamination by Salmonella or other bacteria.
Previously: FDA introduces pilot programs to improve methods of identifying foodborne illness sources, USDA to launch campaign on food safety, List grades best and worst states for food poisoning, Report shows high costs of foodborne illnesses and Image of the Week: The public health costs of Salmonella
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