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Identify current foodborne illness statistics including estimated number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths that occur annually in the United States.

More than 200 known diseases are transmitted through food. The causes of foodborne illness include viruses, bacteria, parasites, toxins, metals, and prions (infectious proteins that have a unique way or replicating and are believed to be the cause of BSE). The symptoms of foodborne illness range from mild gastroenteritis to more severe and even life-threatening complications, such as neurologic, hepatic, and renal syndromes. In the past it has been estimated that between 6 million and 81 million illnesses and up to 9,000 deaths occurred each year as a result of foodborne illness. However, with ongoing changes in the food supply, the identification of new foodborne diseases, and the availability of new surveillance data, these figures are obsolete.

It is now estimated that 76 million cases of foodborne disease occur each year in the United States. Most cases are mild and cause symptoms for only a day or two. Some cases are more serious, and CDC estimates that there are 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths related to foodborne diseases each year. The most severe cases tend to occur in the very old, the very young, those who have an illness already that reduces their immune system function, and in healthy people exposed to a very high dose of an organism.

     Related links:

       Food-Related Illness and Death in the United States

       Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks

       Preliminary FoodNet Data on the Incidence of Foodborne Illnesses

Mead, P.S., L. Slutsker, V. Dietz, L.F. McCaig, J.S. Bresee, C. Shapiro, P.M. Griffin, and R.V. Tauxe. 1999. Food-related illness and death in the U.S. Emerging Infectious Diseases 5:607-625. The complete publication available on-line at: