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Little progress made in combating foodborne illness

Thousands of Americans are still being infected by their food every year, and infections from only one germ among 80 tracked by government officials dropped significantly in 2013, according to new data from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rate of Salmonella infections dropped by about 9 percent compared with the previous three years, though it was unchanged from 2006-2008, baseline years used for comparison.

But campylobacter infections mostly from dairy and chicken are up 13 percent since 2006-2008. Rates of Vibrio infection linked to raw shellfish were at their highest level since tracking began in 1996, though infections from most severe Virbio bacteria, Vibrio vulnificus, remained steady.

Other foodborne infections have not changed since the 2006-2008 period.

“CDC data are essential to gauge how we’re doing in our fight against foodborne illness,” said Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases. “This year’s data show some recent progress in reducing salmonella rates, and also highlight that our work to reduce the burden of foodborne illness is far from over.”

In 2013, more than 19,000 foodborne infections were reported, 4,200 of which required hospitalization. There were 80 deaths from nine germs, logged by FoodNet, a network comprised of the CDC, 10 state health departments, the U.S. Department of Food Safety and Inspection Service and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It covers about 15 percent of the American population, including Marylanders.

Officials say, however, that there are many more cases that are not reported.

Federal officials are producing new rules to reduce risk of infection from food, such as chicken parts, officials said. Other regulations are in the works for produce farms, food facilities, food importers, food transporters and third-party certification bodies. Officials also urged Americans to protect themselves by cooking food properly, washing produce, using clean surfaces and being mindful of risks from unpasteurized milk and raw oysters.  

For more information, go to www.foodsafety.gov.

 

 

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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