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Foodborne Illnesses Decline

Foodborne illnesses significantly declined during 2003, according to data released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While infections caused by salmonella, campylobacter and Yersinia continued their steady decline, E. coli O157:H7 infection numbers dropped dramatically.

An American Meat Institute (AMI) news release summarizing the data reported a 36% drop in E. coli O157:H7 from 2002-2003 and a 46% drop since 1996.

Janice Oliver, deputy director for the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, told reporters that the decline in E. coli infections can be attributed to changes in FDA policy. And Elsa Murano, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Undersecretary for Food Safety, noted the meat industry’s cooperation in efforts to minimize infectious outbreaks.

AMI Foundation President James Hodges recognized several food safety advancements responsible for some of the decline, including enhanced microbiological sampling and testing for bacteria, changes in cattle feeding, steam pasteurization; steam-vacuuming and carcass-washing systems, new ingredients, and ongoing research.

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