The Washington Post’s Dina ElBoghdady must not have had a busy social calendar this Summer weekend if she was stalking the pages of FoodNet for the latest in foodborne illness trends. Her story, “Food-borne illnesses not diminishing” which ran this morning on the Post’s website, I caught while sneaking a peak on my forbidden iPhone on a family camping trip. I will get to the trends in a second, but I was also struck by this line in the story:
the CDC released the data without reaching out to consumer groups and other key stakeholders who typically are notified in advance. Instead, the charts and graphs were quietly posted online Friday.
Can someone at the CDC explain the rationale for that?
On the numbers front, there are some things that you would think that the CDC would not want to release in the middle of the night:
Although Campylobacter, Listeria, Salmonella, Vibrio and Cryptosporidium are up, Shigella, E. coli O157:H7 and Yersinia are down that does not seem to justify a late Friday night posting on the CDC’s website. It will be interesting to watch the non O157 E. coli trends over the next years. Here are the numbers for this year:
Also, hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) was up in 2011 as compared to some earlier years. Since this outcome can be caused by both E. coli O157:H7 and non E. coli O157, that might well be the reason. Time will tell.
Overall, however, we (public health and food producers) are doing better that when I started doing foodborne illnesses cases in the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak – that is a good thing. Now we just need to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and drive the numbers done farther. I really think it is time I spent more time camping.