Many states struggle with foodborne illness reporting

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Foodborne illness Foodborne illness outbreaks Food safety United states

Many states are struggling to investigate and report foodborne illness outbreaks, according to research from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

Looking at data from 2007, the most recent year in which such information is available, CSPI found that reporting of foodborne illness and the quality of information provided to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) varied widely across the country.

CSPI food safety director Caroline Smith DeWaal said: “State and local health departments are our first line of defense when it comes to identifying the food that causes an outbreak. But some states may not have enough investigators or the money to train and equip their staff, which can lead to lower-quality investigations and lower rates of reporting.”

The organization took Minnesota and Oregon as a baseline – two states that it says are recognized as having excellent food safety reporting mechanisms in place, including surveillance, investigation and reporting. Each reported ten illness outbreaks per million people in 2007. CSPI found that seven states actually had a better record than these two, when taking into account the number of foodborne illness outbreaks reported, as well as the quality of information given to the CDC.

However, 23 states reported three or fewer foodborne illness outbreaks per million people during 2007, with 12 reporting just one.

DeWaal is due to present the organization’s findings at a food safety conference in Atlanta today, cosponsored by the US Department of Agriculture and NSF International.

The role of legislation

CSPI added that the pending Food Safety Modernization Act, which is currently awaiting a full hearing in the Senate, could help improve states’ reporting of foodborne illness. It includes provisions to improve communication between food safety and health officials on local, state and federal levels.

“State outbreak reporting is a vital piece of our national food safety system, and the information gathered in the course of outbreak investigations can reduce the impact of outbreaks and prevent future ones. Action on Senate bill would help strengthen both federal and state food safety programs,”​ DeWaal said.

According to CDC figures, about 76m people fall ill as a result of foodborne illness in the United States each year. Of those, 375,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 die.

Related news

Show more

Related products

show more

Is your brand reputation at risk?

Is your brand reputation at risk?

Content provided by FoodChain ID | 20-Oct-2023 | White Paper

FoodChain ID has developed a new white paper, “Current Food Supply Chain Threats - Is Your Company's Brand Reputation at Risk?” examining recent regulatory...

Sustainable Sweetening Solutions from ADM

Sustainable Sweetening Solutions from ADM

Content provided by ADM | 13-Oct-2023 | Product Brochure

ADM understands sweetness—and sustainable sourcing. Not only do we have the industry’s most comprehensive portfolio of sweetening solutions, we also are...

 Four actionable steps to reduce allergen recalls

Four actionable steps to reduce allergen recalls

Content provided by FoodChain ID | 04-Oct-2023 | White Paper

Failing to mitigate allergen risks has serious consequences - not just for consumer safety, poor allergen procedures can also cause financial losses and...

Accelerate your new product development (NPD)

Accelerate your new product development (NPD)

Content provided by FoodChain ID | 02-Oct-2023 | White Paper

Delivering new products to market is a complex process with multiple challenges that results in a failure rate of between 30-40%.

Related suppliers

Follow us


View more