NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 20, 2005

After increasing in the 1990s, food-borne illnesses are now on a sharp decline, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control.

  • Between 1996 and 2004, the most severe type of food-borne illness -- E. coli 0157 infections -- decreased by 42 percent to less than one case per 100,000 people.
  • Listeria, found in raw milk, soft cheeses and raw vegetables, has dropped by 40 percent.
  • Campylobacter, found in raw chicken, has dropped 31 percent, while yersinia, found in meat, oysters, fish and raw milk, decreased 45 percent.
  • Salmonella, found in raw eggs, fell by 8 percent.

Observers attribute increased training and oversight in food factories, greater consumer awareness, and testing and safety measures based on those used by NASA to keep food on moon flights safe from bacteria and toxin.

However, vibrio, found in raw shellfish, has increased by 47 percent. The Food and Drug Administration is unsure what is causing the increase, but new processing technologies that can eliminate vibrio have not yet been widely adopted.

Source: Elizabeth Weise, "Food-borne Illnesses Decline Dramatically," USA Today, April 18, 2005.

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