CDC: Foodborne Illness In The U.S. Not Getting Better

Maryn McKenna | Wired | April 17, 2014

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today released their annual survey of foodborne illnesses in the United States, and the news is, well, not great. In the words of the press announcement they sent out to announce the data release: “limited progress.”

The survey — technically the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, but usually known as FoodNet — doesn’t cover the entire US; it’s a representative sample drawn from 10 sites in nine states where the CDC already has arrangements with epidemiologists and laboratory personnel. Those 10 sites, most of them at state health departments, cover 48 million people, or about 15 percent of the US population. So among that slice, in 2013, there were:

  • 19,056 lab-confirmed foodborne illnesses,
  • 4,200 of which were severe enough to cause the person to be hospitalized,
  • and 80 of which caused the person’s death.

(For context, the CDC’s extrapolation of foodborne illness nationwide, made in 2011, was 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.)