The American Meat Institute Foundation (AMIF) is strongly urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to revise decade-old foodborne illness statistics which are widely referenced by public health officials, regulatory agencies and congressional staff when discussing foodborne illnesses.
In order to improve food safety and further reduce the risk of foodborne illness, it was absolutely critical to have the most accurate estimation of foodborne disease as the cause of illness, hospitalisations and deaths, said AMIF Director of Scientific Affairs Betsy Booren, Ph.D., in a letter to the CDC. Booren notes that the meat and poultry industry has been successful in making a tremendous reduction in the pathogen risk profile of their products and that updated foodborne illness estimates could show tangible results to these efforts.
Data from the Mead et al. “Food-Related Illness and Death in the Untied States” report, published in 1999, estimates 76 million cases of illness, 325,000 hospitalisations and 5000 deaths per year are attributed to the consumption of food products. However, the recently released CDC analysis of reported illnesses in the U.S. for 2008 indicated approximately 100,000 illnesses for the same food-related notifiable diseases. These discrepancies may be caused by the fact that the 1999 estimates were derived using adjustments for underreporting of foodborne illnesses, which are likely no longer valid given the changes in public health reporting over the past two decades. These 11-year old estimates also virtually ignore the newer, more accurate and specific methods of detecting microorganisms and the vast progress made by the food industry in improving the safety of their products over the last decade.
AMI and the Foundation have been eagerly awaiting the update to the Mead et al. report, which has been in preparation since before 2007. Booren also reinforced how accurate and timelier foodborne illness attribution data was critically needed to improve the safety of the U.S. food supply. This objective data allowed food safety stakeholders to allocate food safety resources and scientifically justify the decisions made in their food safety system, Booren writes.
Source: AMI - American Meat Institute