A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows efforts to reduce food-borne illnesses in the U.S. have stalled with some illnesses on the upswing. One CDC official says a greater effort is needed at all stages of movement of food in the food chain from farm to table. The CDC says the trend is fueled by several factors including the intricacy of the food chain, the changing nature of the contaminating bacteria and the rise in imported food.
Reflecting the complexity of the problem is how bacteria usually associated with meats and poultry have shown up in fresh produce. E. coli 0157 in spinach and salmonella in peanuts and pistachios shows that those kinds of pathogens can spread and contaminate a number of different foods.
Progress had been made. Data collected by the CDC since 1996 from 10 states on infections caused by eight bacteria and two parasites found in food showed a drop in the rate of infection for several bacteria until about 2004. But that's when the numbers started rising again or leveling off for things like salmonella, E. coli and listeria. And preliminary data for 2008 shows infection rates for five food-borne illnesses exceed the national goals set by the CDC for 2010 - with the rate of salmonella infection more than twice the national goal. That doesn't include the current outbreaks linked to peanut products and pistachios.