On Apr. 18, 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published the annual report on the “Incidence and Trends of Infection with Pathogens Transmitted Commonly Through Food – Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, 10 U.S. Sites, 1996 – 2012.”
This report, the “Report Card for Food Safety,” contains estimates of current incidence rates and trends for the most common foodborne pathogens based on laboratory confirmed infections reported in the 10 FoodNet states.
In 2012, the data do not show any significant reductions in the number of illnesses — and, for E. coli O157:H7 and non-O157 STEC, the data show increases.
The two-year incidence rates for the pathogens of concern for meat and poultry and the Healthy People 2020 goals are:




2020 Goals*

E. coli O157:H7




Non-O157 STEC
















* per 100,000 population
+ no goal has been established for non-O157
E. coli O157:H7 — The O157 incidence rate increased and no longer meets the 2010 Healthy People target of 1.0 cases per 100,000 population, and did not continue the downward trend toward the 2020 target of 0.6 cases. At this point, the cause(s) of the increase are unknown. CDC officials have acknowledged that O157 is not limited to beef; illnesses can come from produce, raw milk and other vectors, such as human to human contact, animal contact and water. CDC did look to whether the increase was the result of outbreaks (beef or non-beef), but the outbreak data do not show any differences between 2011 and 2012. CDC did state that “the lack of recent decline in STEC O157 incidence is of concern.”
Non-O157 STEC — The incidence rate for this group of pathogens also increased. CDC did comment that this increase might be due to “increasing use by clinical laboratories of tests that detect these infections.” Among the STEC non-O157 isolates, the most common serotypes were O26 (27%), O103 (23%), O111 (15%), O121 (8%), O118 and O145 (4% each). Five of the six were the same as last year. This year, O45 dropped off, to be replaced by O118.
Listeria — Listeria monocytogenes showed a slight decline in incidence to 0.25 cases per 100,000 per population. CDC did not single this organism for much discussion in the report, simply noting that Listeria had the highest rates of hospitalizations and deaths of the pathogens.
Campylobacter — Although the change in Campylobacter was slight, CDC highlighted that “the incidence of Campylobacter infection has increased to its highest level since 2000.” Most media reports have focused on the Campylobacter finding; the other pathogens are addressed by the mention that their incidence is unchanged.
Salmonella — The incidence rate was basically unchanged. However CDC did comment that progress had been made in reducing contamination and cited to the “tightened” FSIS performance standard for Salmonella contamination on whole broiler chickens. For Salmonella serotypes, the top three were: Enteritidis, 1,238 (18%); Typhimurium, 914 (13%); and Newport, 901 (13%).
If this were a school report card, industry would not be on the honor roll yet.