The US is falling short of government goals to reduce cases of foodborne illness, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed.
In its annual report, the CDC’s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) has revealed that cases of Salmonella, Campylobacter and Listeria monocytogenes infection exceeded targets set by the U.S. government for 2010.
Meanwhile, cases of E.coli O157 remained below a government target of 1 case of illness per 100,000 people.
For every 100,000 people, 0.98 cases of E.coli O157-related illnesses were recorded – below the government target, but an increase on the 0.95 recorded by FoodNet in 2010.
FoodNet, which collects information to track incidence and trends of infection with nine pathogens transmitted commonly through food, identified nearly 19,000 infections in 2011.
The data has led to one food safety advocate re-emphasizing the importance and urgency of implementing measures of the Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA).
US government targets
The FoodNet program sees collaboration between the CDC, the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and health departments in 10 states.
It collects data on laboratory-confirmed cases of foodborne infection in ten areas – Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee and in selected counties in California, Colorado and New York.
For every 100,000 people, 14.31 fell ill with Campylobacter in 2011 – significantly higher than the 13.52 recorded in 20120 and the US government target of 12.3 for 2010.
Cases of Salmonella fell from 17.55 per 100,000 people in 2010 to 16.47 in 2011. However, data for 2011 still surpassed government targets of 6.8 per 100,000.
Cases of Listeria also surpassed 2012 government targets of 0.24. FoodNet recorded 0.28 cases of illness per 100,000 people for 2011 – up on the 0.27 recorded in 2010. However, nearly a third of these were related to the Jensen Farms cantaloupe-related Listeria outbreak in Colorado, which infected 146 people across 28 states and killed 30.
Commenting on the CDC report, the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) has called for an end to delays in implementing the FSMA.
“This data further emphasizes the need for FDA to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act, which was signed into law in January 2010 and shifts FDA’s food safety program from one of reaction to prevention,” said the CFA statement.
“The FDA has proposed regulations to implement four major components of the law – produce safety, preventive controls for food and animal feed and import safety – yet the rules are now seven months overdue and have been delayed by the Obama Administration. The Administration should immediately release the rules so that FDA can move forward on implementation of the new law,” the CFA added.