In January 2011, President Obama signed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) into law, signaling the first major update to our nation’s food safety framework since the Great Depression. Despite bipartisan support, and a coalition of food safety advocates and industry representatives working for its enactment, the administration still has not issued the proposed rules needed to begin implementing this law. This interactive graphic represents 15 widespread multistate foodborne illness outbreaks linked to FDA-regulated products since FSMA was enacted, which constitute a small fraction of total foodborne illnesses reported during that period. Click on the arrows or select a date to learn more.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in six Americans (48 million people) suffer from a foodborne illness each year, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.
What defines an outbreak?
An outbreak is defined as an incident in which two or more persons experience a similar illness resulting from the ingestion of a common food.
Sporadic cases, illnesses that are not part of an outbreak, make up the overwhelming majority of foodborne illnesses reported annually.
A number of events must occur for an illness to be appropriately diagnosed and reported: a sample must be submitted for testing, the test must identify the pathogen, and the illness must be reported to state public health authorities. In order to accurately estimate the number of illnesses caused by pathogens, CDC determines the number of confirmed illnesses and adjusted for underdiagnosis and, if necessary, for underreporting by using a series of component multipliers.
In January 2011, President Barack Obama signed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) into law, signaling the first major update to our nation’s food safety oversight framework since the Great Depression. Despite widespread support for the legislation and its implementation, the Obama administration still has not issued all of the proposed rules under FSMA.
"Twenty-two weeks. That’s how long it took federal health officials to determine the contaminated food source after the first person was infected in a 2011 outbreak of salmonella that swept across 34 states, sickened 136 people and led to one of the largest national recalls of ground turkey."
A multistate outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections linked to ground turkey in 2011 sickened 136 people, causing 37 hospitalizations and one death. The Pew Charitable Trusts' analysis of the outbreak found numerous inadequacies in the foodborne illness surveillance system that, if addressed, could help to prevent illnesses and, in some cases, deaths.
An examination of a Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak linked to ground turkey illustrates that health authorities must be more aggressive in their efforts to detect and respond to foodborne illnesses, according to a new report by The Pew Charitable Trusts, titled “Too Slow: An Analysis of the 2011 Salmonella Ground Turkey Outbreak and Recommendations for Improving Detection and Response.” In all, the contaminated food sickened a reported 136 people in the United States, hospitalized 37 and killed one, according to government data.
This year's celebration of National Public Health Week (NPHW) focuses on the theme, "Public Health is ROI: Save Lives, Save Money." Join us in recognizing the work of Pew's Health Initiatives. More info
My name is Jennifer Exley, and I reside in Centennial, Colorado. I am the daughter of Herbert Stevens, who was deeply impacted by listeria-contaminated cantaloupe in August 2011. As you well know, 147 people were sickened and 33 people died in that outbreak — the deadliest in 25 years. My father was one of the so-called lucky survivors. His health and quality of life was, and remains, seriously affected because of something he ate.
Jeff Almer's mother, Shirley Almer, a two-time cancer survivor, died right before Christmas 2008. She lost her life not because of a horrific disease, but due to an infection she got from something she ate. She had defied the odds and beaten brain cancer. It was peanut butter contaminated with salmonella that eventually took her away from her family. More info
The Obama administration has taken an important step by releasing the draft rules central to implementing the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), but it must do more. Important draft regulations focused on the safety of imported foods are still awaiting release. These rules are especially important since about two-thirds of fruits and vegetables and 80 percent of seafood consumed in the United States come from abroad.
On Thursday, February 28 and Friday, March 1, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will hold public hearings in Washington, D.C., on FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) draft rules released earlier this year. The public will also have the opportunity to testify at agency meetings in Chicago and Portland on March 11-12 and March 27-28, respectively.