ATLANTA – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published the latest data on foodborne illness in a new report, Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks--United States, 2009-2015In the analysis, the CDC  investigated known foodborne diseases that cause approximately 9.4 million illnesses each year in the US.

“Although only a small subset of illnesses are associated with recognized outbreaks, data from outbreak investigations provide insight into the foods and pathogens that cause illnesses and the settings and conditions in which they occur,” the report said.

The agency released the following data for the period between 2009-2015.

  • 5,760 outbreaks that resulted in 100,939 illnesses, 5,699 hospitalizations, and 145 deaths.
  • Among 2,953 outbreaks with a single confirmed etiology, norovirus was the most common cause of outbreaks (1,130 outbreaks or 38 percent) and outbreak-associated illnesses (27,623 illnesses or 41 percent), followed by Salmonella with 896 outbreaks (30 percent) and 23,662 illnesses (35 percent).
  • Outbreaks caused by ListeriaSalmonella, and Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) were responsible for 82 percent of all hospitalizations and 82 percent of deaths reported. 
  • Among 1,281 outbreaks in which the food reported could be classified into a single food category, fish were the most commonly implicated category (222 outbreaks or 17 percent), followed by dairy (136 or 11 percent) and chicken (123 or 10 percent).
  • The food categories responsible for the most outbreak-associated illnesses were chicken (3,114 illnesses or 12 percent), pork (2,670 or 10 percent), and seeded vegetables (2,572 or 10 percent).
  • Multistate outbreaks comprised only 3 percent of all outbreaks reported but accounted for 11 percent of illnesses, 34 percent of hospitalizations, and 54 percent of deaths.

The CDC concluded that the norovirus remains the leading cause of foodborne disease outbreaks. The agency said this highlighted the continued need for food safety improvement by targeting worker health and hygiene in foodservice settings.

“Outbreaks caused by Listeria, Salmonella, and STEC are important targets for public health intervention efforts, and improving the safety of chicken, pork, and seeded vegetables should be a priority,” the report said.