2012 was not such a good year for foodborne illness prevention when you consider that infection rates in the US of the most common foodborne pathogens including Campylobacter and Vibrio rose dramatically.
While other major pathogens generally maintained rates similar to recent years, according to the nation’s annual “food safety progress report” published by the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday, Campylobacter and Vibrio rose 14 per cent and 43 per cent respectively.
Campylobacter infections are most commonly associated with poultry and raw milk and Vibrio is often linked to raw shellfish such as oysters. As compared to the period between 2006-2008 instances of both these infections rose with 2012 demonstrating the highest Campylobacter infection rates since the year 2000. And according to the American Centres for Disease Control the rates of Campylobacter are probably a lot higher than reported, apparently around 30 cases go unreported each year.
Annually the CDC releases a report based on the data collected by FoodNet, a national American collaborative network maintained by CDC, The US Department of Agriculture, The US Food and Drug Administration and state and county health departments in 10 states across the US, representing approximately 12 per cent of the US population.
Data considered in the report is gathered by the state health departments of Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon and Tennessee; and in select counties in California, Colorado and New York. Those areas encompassed approximately 47 million Americans as of 2010.
The report for 2012 shows that rates of other common pathogens like Salmonella, Listeria and E.Coli remained fairly consistent with 2006-2008 figures and E.Coli rates had even been shown to dip slightly since that period.
An informative article on www.foodsafetynews.com reported on the CDC’s findings and results for 2012. Read an excerpt from the article below which highlights the most important points:
Overall, FoodNet tracked 19,531 illnesses in 2012, and 4,563 hospitalizations and 68 deaths tied to nine different foodborne pathogens. Those numbers only account for pathogens that test positive in a clinical lab culture, which is a small percentage of the total estimated number of foodborne illness cases, health officials said in a telephone conference with reporters on Thursday. Foodborne illness affects an estimated 48 million Americans annually.
“There are many infections that occur in addition to those that are actually diagnosed,” said CDC Deputy Director of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases, Dr. Robert Tauxe. “We know this from outbreaks when a large group of people become ill, but a smaller group of people actually go to see the physician or get cultured and turn up as culture confirmed. And we know this from our surveys of the population.”
While FoodNet tracks nine of the most common foodborne pathogens, it does not track Norovirus, the nation’s most common cause of gastroenteritis. Most clinical labs do not test for Norovirus, and the virus is often transmitted from person to person, not necessarily via food.
When asked why Campylobacter numbers have risen, Dr. David Goldman, Assistant Administrator of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, said that rates of Campylobacter found on whole chickens and turkeys have actually declined since the 2006-2008 period. It may be that other products — or even ground chicken and ground turkey — are seeing a rise in Campylobacter contamination.
The following “Food Safety Progress Report for 2012” provides more clarity: