Incidence of food-borne illness holds steady

by Keith Nunes
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ATLANTA — After a period of decline, the incidence of food-borne illness held steady in 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The findings were part of a 10-state report from the agency’s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network and released on April 10.

Campylobacter, Listeria, Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli O157:H7, Vibrio and Yersinia did not decline significantly, and the incidence of Cryptosporidium increased when compared with the previous three years.

"The results show that prevention efforts have been partly successful, but there has been little further progress in the most recent years," said Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the C.D.C.’s Division of Foodborne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases. "More needs to be done to make our food safer. We are constantly working to help our public health system better detect, investigate and control outbreaks and to understand how to prevent food-borne illness outbreaks in the first place."

Several high profile recalls related to Salmonella in peanut butter and E. coli O157:H7 in bagged spinach, for example, have gained national attention during the past few years. As a result, the Food Marketing Institute issued a report earlier this year that found that 66% of shoppers (surveyed during 2007) were confident the food they buy from grocery stores was safe. The figure is down from the 82% of shoppers surveyed during 2006 who felt the food they buy is safe.

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