CDC Says Rates of Foodborne Illness Relatively Unchanged in 2011

The statistics for 2011 are out and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the number of Americans falling ill from foodborne pathogens has remained largely unchanged from the latter half of the 2000s, despite federal regulators’ stated goal to greatly reduce that rate.

The CDC’s recently released foodborne illness data for 2011 showed that some instances of foodborne pathogens, like E. Coli O157, have been radically reduced. Since 1996 there has been a 256 percent drop in reported cases of the bacteria in beef. Experts attribute that drop to the beef industry’s “zero-tolerance” attitude that designates the bacteria as an adulterant and its rigorous screening to keep the pathogen out of beef. This tough approach was implemented after the 1993 Jack-in-the-Box E. Coli outbreak that sickened 600 people and killed four children.

With other foodborne pathogens, however, the numbers haven’t met expectations.

The government’s goal of lowering the rate of Americans infected with Salmonella down to 6.8 per every 1000,000 people fell way short – the rate was 16.5 in 2011. Likewise, Campylobacter rates were 14.3 in 2011 (the government’s goal was 12.3). Both of those bugs are widely associated with poultry products.

Food safety advocates emphasize that implementing important measures of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which focuses on prevention rather than reaction when it comes to food safety, is key to driving the rates down.

As of today, many of those key measures remain stalled at the White House Office of Management and Budget and have yet to be implemented. The CDC estimates that some 48 million people are sickened by foodborne illnesses every year in the United States.

If you’ve been sickened because of contaminated food, you may be entitled to compensation for hospitalization, lost wages, and medical bills. Contact a Tallahassee food recall lawyer at Farah & Farah at (800) 533-3555 for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options today.