Little Progress in Reducing Foodborne Illness

Gaps in U.S. food safety system continue to let dangerous food reach the table
By Jane Parry
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, April 10 (HealthDay News) -- Gaps in the current food safety system undermine efforts to reduce the incidence of foodborne disease, and the incidence of food poisoning has changed little in the past three years in the United States, according to a report published in the April 10 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Duc Vugia, M.D., of the California Department of Public Health in Richmond, Calif., and colleagues analyzed data from 1996 through to preliminary data for 2008 from FoodNet, the CDC's Emerging Infections Program's Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, to assess trends in infection due to a number of foodborne pathogens.

There was no change in 2008 versus the preceding three years in incidence of foodborne infections caused by Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Listeria, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157, Salmonella, Shigella, Vibrio and Yersinia, the investigators found. Incidence of infections continued to be highest among children under 4 years of age and the highest rate of hospitalizations and fatalities was among adults aged 50 years and above, the report indicates.

"None of the Healthy People 2010 targets for reduction of foodborne pathogens were reached in 2008," the authors write. "The lack of recent progress points to gaps in the current food safety system and the need to continue to develop and evaluate food safety practices as food moves from the farm to the table."

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