In MMWR, the CDC published an analysis of data in the Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System from 2010 - 2014. The document can be found here.
What were the important results:
- During this 5-year period, 120 multistate foodborne disease outbreaks (with identified pathogen and food or common setting) were reported to CDC.
- These multistate outbreaks accounted for 3% (120 of 4,163) of all reported foodborne outbreaks, but were responsible for 11% (7,929 of 71,747) of illnesses, 34% (1,460 of 4,247) of hospitalizations, and 56% (66 of 118) of deaths associated with foodborne outbreaks. [Listeria accounted for the largest percentage of deaths - 86%]
- Salmonella (63 outbreaks), Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (34), and Listeria monocytogenes (12) were the leading pathogens.
- Fruits (17), vegetable row crops (15), beef (13), sprouts (10), and seeded vegetables (nine) were the most commonly implicated foods.
- Imported foods were linked to 18 multistate outbreaks.
Big and deadly: Major foodborne outbreaks spike sharply (Washington Post) goes on to say that major foodborne outbreaks in the United States have more than tripled in the last 20 years.
Well, our improvement in being able to see outbreaks has improved in the last twenty years. With Pulsenet, CDC can work with states to find outbreaks. This system came online 20 years ago and has continued to improve, especially with the development of whole genome sequencing. So of course we see more outbreaks than we saw 20 years ago, but that does not mean they didn't exist. And if you had to guess, you would say that there were more 20 years ago then there are today.