Deaths and Illnesses from Foodborne Pathogens Drop

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Good news! The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released reports this week that show a significant decrease in the number of people sickened and killed annually from foodborne illnesses.

The CDC said its analysis, which spanned over 11 years, led to new estimates that foodborne pathogens sicken about 48 million Americans annually, hospitalizing 128,000 and killing 3,000. Previously, based on 1999 estimates, the CDC had said such pathogens annually sickened 76 million people, hospitalized 325,000 and killed 5,000.

Salmonella was the leading cause of hospitalizations and deaths, responsible for about 28 percent of deaths and 35 percent of hospitalizations due to known pathogens transmitted by food.

“We’ve made progress in better understanding the burden of foodborne illness, and unfortunately far too many people continue to get sick from the food they eat,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, the CDC’s director. “These estimates provide valuable information to help CDC and its partners set priorities and further reduce illnesses from food.”

But, while these figures look promising, the CDC says that there is still much that is unknown about foodborne illnesses.

“Foodborne illnesses and deaths are preventable, and as such, are unacceptable," FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg said. “We must, and can, do better by intensifying our efforts to implement measures that are prevention-oriented and science-based.”

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