CDC Reports Rise in Foodborne Illnesses

April 30, 2019

new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the number of foodborne infections significantly increased in 2018 compared to recent years.

The report tallied laboratory-diagnosed foodborne infections caused by eight pathogens at 10 U.S. sites covering 15% of the population. In 2018, the report identified 25,606 illnesses, 5,893 hospitalizations, and 120 deaths from foodborne illnesses.

CDC researchers identified campylobacter, bacteria most often found in chicken, raw milk, and water, as the top cause of bacterial foodborne illness since 2013. The second most common foodborne illness was salmonella;  followed by shiga toxin-producing E. coli; shigella, bacteria that can contaminate raw foods such as fruits and vegetables that are grown fields that contain human waste; and vibrio, bacteria contracted by eating shellfish, such as oysters, that aren’t fully cooked.

Compared to 2015-2017, confirmed cases of campylobacter increased by 12% in 2018, cases of salmonella increased 9%, and cases of vibrio increased 109%.  Cases of cyclospora, an infection causes by parasites, increased 399% in 2018, due to the large outbreaks linked to produce last year, such as romaine lettuce.

Researchers say the rise in foodborne infections may be partially attributable to increased testing that confirms the cause of illnesses. However, they still believe there is room for improvement in food handling. Follow these tips from CMM to prevent foodborne illnesses in food service facilities, such as using color-coded microfiber towels to avoid cross contamination, and regularly cleaning and disinfecting food-preparation surfaces.