In 2017, 841 foodborne disease outbreaks were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to a recently released annual summary from the Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System. The data come from reports submitted by state, local, and territorial public health agencies to the National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS), a platform for reporting enteric (gut) disease outbreaks due to food, water, animals and their environments, and from person-to-person transmission.
Although most foodborne illnesses are not part of a recognized outbreak, outbreaks provide important information on the germs, toxins, and chemicals that cause illness and the implicated foods.
Here are the main findings:
- Reported foodborne disease outbreaks resulted in 14,481 illnesses, 827 hospitalizations, 20 deaths, and recalls of 14 food products.
- Norovirus was the most frequently reported confirmed cause, with 140 outbreaks and 4,092 outbreak-associated illnesses.
- Salmonella was the second most common, with 113 outbreaks and 3,007 outbreak-associated illnesses.
- Restaurants were linked to outbreaks more often than any other place where food was prepared, as in previous reports. Restaurants were associated with 489 outbreaks, accounting for 64% of outbreaks that had a single location where food was prepared. Most of these restaurant outbreaks (366) occurred at establishments with sit-down dining.
- The food categories responsible for the most outbreak-associated illnesses were:
- Turkey (609 illnesses)
- Fruits (521)
- Chicken (487)
- Pork (376)