Foodborne Illness Statistics can be Misleading

Nelson GaydosBy Nelson Gaydos, Outreach Specialist

I recently read an article in The National Provisioner by Andrew Lorenz from We R Food Safety! titled: “Foodborne Illness Estimates: Fascinating and Misleading” (thank you Darla Kiesel for pointing it out to me) and I felt the need to comment on it.

The article explains how even correct statistics relating to foodborne illness can be manipulated and, in turn, used incorrectly. Both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) base their budgets and the focus of their work on the estimated occurrences of illnesses and deaths from food consumption. The articles goes further to question the validity of the estimated numbers used by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and concludes that the numbers they use are much greater than the actual numbers.

Though the CDC may be using overestimation of the actual statistics, it is important to recognize that we as an industry have come a long way and have significantly decreased both illnesses and deaths associated with foodborne illness in meat and poultry products. We need to continue to focus our time and resources on having proactive food safety plans; to prevent foodborne illness from occurring instead of reacting to it. Controlling the temperature of your products throughout the entire process and preventing cross-contamination from occurring are just two ways you can drastically increase both the shelf life and safety of your products. By doing this we can decrease foodborne illness even greater and provide to our customers the most safe and wholesome products we can make.

I encourage you to read the entire article here (email sign up is required).