- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, known as FoodNet, the CDC received reports of 24,029 illnesses, 5,512 hospitalizations, and 98 deaths due to infections that were detected by laboratory tests last year, according to an organizational release.
- Campylobacter and salmonella registered the largest most infections per 100,000, which is consistent with previous years.
- The number of campylobacter, salmonella, shigella, vibrio and yersinia infections grew 114% in 2016, compared to the 2013–2015 average.
While CDC has reported a huge uptick in the number of foodborne illness cases over the past year, those following the industry say that’s more a case of better testing than an actual increase in the numbers. In past years, many were not reported as foodborne illnesses. Testing has improved, meaning investigators can now find more instances of contamination than they previously could.
More use of big data has also helped identify larger outbreaks. Through genetic profiling and new processes do a quick and efficient job of connecting the dots of a single strain of bacteria. This makes pinpointing contamination faster, easier and more accurate for all parties involved.
More manufacturers have made a concerted effort to improve safety checks in recent years. The Food Safety Modernization Act became law in 2011. Different facets of the law, which focus on preventing contamination in food sources have started to go into effect starting last year, and prioritize safety protocol for manufacturers.
Not everyone believes that FSMA has done much to impact recalls and contamination just yet, however. The law has encouraged manufacturers to improve their safety protocol. The future will show if more preventive measures will cut back on the number of foodborne illnesses, or if continued improvements in technology continue to uncover more incidents that may have once gone undetected.