The American Meat Institute Foundation wants the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to update its food-borne illness statistics.
“In order to improve food safety and further reduce the risk of food-borne illness, it is absolutely critical to have the most accurate estimation of food-borne disease as the cause of illness, hospitalizations and deaths,” wrote Besty Booren, AMIF director of scientific affairs, in a letter to the CDC.
The data that public health officials, regulatory agencies and congressional staff cite is more than 10 years old. It’s essentially from 1999, when the Mead et al. “Food-Related Illness and Death in the United States” report which estimated that food causes 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths annually. CDC recently released a 2008 analysis, which showed food-related totaled roughly 100,000 annually.
An update to the Mead et al. report has been in the works since before 2007.
AMI pointed out that public health reporting has changed over the last 20 years, thereby making the 1999 no longer valid or applicable. Plus, AMI said, the last 10 years have seen newer and more accurate methods for microorganism detection and other safety improvements.
“This objective data allows food safety stakeholders to allocate food safety resources and scientifically justify the decisions made in their food safety system,” Booren wrote. “By having timely, credible food attribution data, the food industry can accurately identify and improve any food safety gaps that may exist. It also may help to identify emerging food-borne risks, especially when such risks have not been previously associated with specific foods. This rapid adjustment to improve food safety can only occur if accurate data is made available as soon as possible to all food safety stakeholders.”
You can access the complete letterhere.