The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have filed a report that shows important declines in foodborne infections due to common bacterial pathogens in 2004.
The full report, “Preliminary FoodNet Data on the Incidence of Infections with Pathogens Transmitted Commonly Through Food — Selected Sites, United States, 2004” appears in this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (April 15, 2005).

“This report is good news for Americans and underscores the importance of investments in food safety. Our efforts are working and we’re making progress in reducing foodborne illnesses,” said CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding. “The continued reduction in illnesses from E. coli O157 is a tremendous success story and we are committed to continuing this positive trend in the future,” said USDA Secretary Mike Johanns.

For the first time, cases of E. coli O157 infections, one of the most severe foodborne diseases, are below the national Healthy People 2010 health goal. From 1996-2004, the incidence of E. coli O157 infections decreased 42 percent. Campylobacter infections decreased 31 percent, Cryptosporidium dropped 40 percent, and Yersinia decreased 45 percent. Salmonella infections dropped 8 percent, but only one of the five most common strains declined significantly.
On the other hand, the incidence of Shigella, which is found in a wide variety of foods, did not change significantly from 1996 through 2004. Vibrio infections increased 47 percent. Vibrio infections, which are primarily associated with consumption of certain types of raw shellfish, can be prevented by thoroughly cooking seafood, especially oysters.