Why Foodborne Illness Is Now Epidemic

CNN – One child drank apple cider at a Connecticut farm, another a glass of juice during a road trip in Oregon; later, both were rushed to emergency rooms as they struggled for their lives.

A middle-aged woman became sick more than a decade ago after enjoying a salad at a banquet hosted by a California hotel; her debilitating symptoms continue to this day.

A 17-year-old paid the ultimate price when he ate two hamburgers “with everything, to go” and died days later. Crapped-In Beef: “Unhealthful, Unwholesome, Unfit For Humans”

These are the stories behind the faces on the “Honor Wall” of Stop Foodborne Illness, the national nonprofit that represents and supports those who suffered a drastic consequence following the most ordinary act: eating.

Foodborne illness hits one in six Americans every year, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, estimating that 48 million people get sick due to one or another of 31 pathogens. About 128,000 people end up in the hospital while 3,000 die annually. Even Canned Corn Is Now Toxic

Globally, almost 1 in 10 people are estimated to fall ill every year from eating contaminated food and 420 000 die as a result, according to the World Health Organization.

Preventing foodborne illness in the United States is the job of the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, which oversees the meat, poultry and processed egg supply, and the US Food and Drug Administration, responsible for domestic and imported foods.

With frequent news of outbreaks, which are investigated by the CDC, many people might wonder whether foodborne illness is on the rise — and whether safety measures across the nation adequately protect our food supply. 8 Food Safety Risks In YOUR Supermarket

Is foodborne illness on the rise?

Matthew Wise, deputy branch chief for outbreak response at the CDC, said the agency usually gets “about 200 illness clusters” to evaluate each year. Wise described these clusters as “potential outbreaks.”

“Outbreaks are the very, very, very end of a long process,” he said. An outbreak investigation includes collecting evidence, confirming an illness-causing pathogen and tracing contacts; most of this work is performed by state health departments, though it is coordinated by the CDC. Read more.