Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on LinkedInShare on Tumblr

Food poisoning is really no joke: the Listeria outbreak in Blue Bell ice cream has caused a large recall with several hospitalizations and deaths. The Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network is a collaboration among 10 states, the CDC, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that monitors infections caused by common pathogens. The network recently compiled 2014 data on food-borne illnesses. There were approximately 19,500 food-borne infections last year with most of the cases caused by two bacteria, Salmonella and Campylobacter.

Salmonella is a familiar player in food poisoning; both Salmonella and E. coli used to be the most common causes of food poisoning. Salmonella Typhimurium causes diarrhea and abdominal cramps but can be deadly for the elderly and the immunocompromised. The dangerous Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC) O157, caused by consuming undercooked ground beef or raw vegetables, also causes extreme cramps and diarrhea and can potentially lead to kidney failure.

Undercooked or improperly prepared foods can cause food-borne illnesses.

Feature Image Source: Ray Kachatorian

Infection by these two bacteria decreased in 2014 in comparison to the infection rates in 2006-2008 by 32% for STEC O157 and 27% for Salmonella Typhimurium. It’s good news, since it indicates that the CDC has made some progress in decreasing rates of food-borne illness and contamination. However, overall rates of food-borne illness have not decreased. Other subtypes of Salmonella known as Javiana and Infantis increased, offsetting the decrease in infections caused by Typhimurium for reasons that are not currently known. Furthermore, increases in infections caused by the Campylobacter and Vibrio bacteria have made up for the decrease in Typhimurium and O157 infections.

It looks like the decrease in deadly E.coli infections was due to more stringent food safety regulations, with public health officials quickly responding to potential outbreaks. In addition, the FDA is releasing new regulations to decrease the potential for outbreaks and to stop contamination. The Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law in 2011, and the FDA plans to create new regulations under the act this year for more control and safety of produce and other processed foods. We can see that the CDC has made some headway into decreasing the amount of food-borne illnesses, but there’s a lot more that can be done.

Feature Image Source: eren {sea+prairie}

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on LinkedInShare on Tumblr