Are fewer people getting sick from food? Is reporting getting worse

Foodborne illness outbreaks are trending downward, according to a new review of outbreaks by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest.

From 2001 to 2010, the latest 10-year period for which data is available, outbreaks related to E. coli, Salmonella, and other dangerous pathogens appear to have decreased by more than 40 percent. Better food safety foodnet.pyramid.fbi.reportingpractices, notably the adoption of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) programs in the meat, poultry, and seafood industries, may have contributed to the decline, says CSPI. But the group cautions that incomplete reporting of outbreaks by understaffed and financially stretched public health agencies may also influence the data.

“Despite progress made by the industry and by food safety regulators, contaminated food is still causing too many illnesses, visits to the emergency room, and deaths,” said CSPI food safety director Caroline Smith DeWaal. “Yet state and local health departments and federal food safety programs always seem to be on the chopping block. Those financial pressures not only threaten the progress we’ve made on food safety, but threaten our very understanding of which foods and which pathogens are making people sick.”