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Dramatic decline in foodborne illness. (Update).

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show a 23 percent overall drop for seven bacterial foodborne illnesses since 1996.

The data come from the Foodborne Disease Surveillance Network (FoodNet) and are published in the April 19, 2002, issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (on the Internet at <http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm511a3.htm>).

The four major bacterial foodborne illnesses--Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli O157 diseases--posted a cumulative 21 percent decline in the past six years:

* Campylobacter illnesses declined 27 percent,

* Salmonella illnesses declined 15 percent,

* Listeria illnesses declined 35 percent, and

* E. coli O157:H7 illnesses declined 21 percent (from 2000 to 2001).

CDC credits the reduction to a number of factors, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture's implementation of the Pathogen Reduction/Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) regulations in meat and poultry plants. According to CDC, "The decline in the rate of Salmonella infections in humans coincided with a decline in the prevalence of Salmonella isolated from FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service)-regulated products to levels well below baseline levels before HACCP was implemented."

CDC also noted other interventions that have contributed to the decline in illness rates, including

* egg quality assurance programs,

* increased attention to fresh produce safety through better agricultural practices,

* introduction of the HACCP method in the seafood industry,

* regulation of fruit and vegetable juice,

* industry efforts introducing new intervention technologies to reduce food contamination,

* food safety education, and

* increased regulation of imported food.

CDC also noted that enhanced surveillance and outbreak investigations have identified new control measures and focused attention on preventing foodborne disease.

While the FoodNet data underscore progress, they also point to problem areas. The data continue to show a high incidence of foodborne disease in children, especially infants. Calling this finding "of major concern," FoodNet has initiated a case control study of sporadic cases of Salmonella and Campylobacter in young children.

In an editorial note, the CDC authors add that future efforts to reduce foodborne illness "might include steps to reduce the prevalence of these pathogens in their respective animal reservoirs."

The final FoodNet report is available online at <http://www.cdc.gov/foodnet>.
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Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2002
Words:366
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