Key Points:

  • Campylobacter and Salmonella are the leading causes of bacterial enteric infections transmitted commonly by food. Reported incidence of enteric infections was lower during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020–2021) compared with previous years.
  • During 2022, FoodNet identified higher incidences of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, Yersinia, Vibrio, and Cyclospora infections compared with 2016–2018. Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, and Listeria incidences did not change.
  • Progress in reducing enteric infection incidence was not observed during 2022, as influences of the COVID-19 pandemic subsided. 
  • Collaboration among food growers, processors, retail stores, restaurants, and regulators is needed to reduce pathogen contamination during poultry slaughter and to prevent contamination of leafy greens.

Each year, infections from major foodborne pathogens are responsible for an estimated 9.4 million illnesses, 56,000 hospitalizations, and 1,350 deaths in the United States. (All foodborne illnesses account for over 40 million illnesses, 125, 000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths).

During 2022, annual incidences of illnesses caused by the pathogens Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, and Listeria were similar to average annual incidences during 2016–2018; however, incidences of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), Yersinia, Vibrio, and Cyclospora illnesses were higher. 

This report highlights lack of progress in reducing enteric infection incidence. The incidence of Salmonella infections during 2022 was above the Healthy People 2030 target. Also during 2022, the incidence of the most common domestically acquired infections, those caused by Campylobacter (17.4 per 100,000 population), was above the Healthy People 2030 target of 10.9. Poultry meat has been the most commonly identified source of Campylobacter infections in many countries for many years and is also estimated to be the most common U.S. source of Salmonella infections.

Further efforts to reduce contamination during poultry slaughter and processing are needed to reduce the incidence of Campylobacter, Salmonella, and other foodborne pathogens. In 2021, FSIS published new guidelines for poultry slaughter and processing establishments to control Campylobacter in raw poultry. Recommendations aim to reduce the incidence of pathogen colonization in birds (e.g., poultry vaccination and use of prebiotics and probiotics) and minimize contamination of poultry water, feed, and bedding. In 2022, FSIS proposed a new regulatory framework to control Salmonella in poultry products. In 2023, FSIS released a proposed notice of determination to declare Salmonella an adulterant in not-ready-to-eat breaded and stuffed chicken products. Reducing leafy green contamination by improving agricultural water safety, as promoted by FDA and the Food Safety Modernization Act, could also reduce Salmonella, STEC, Listeria, and other pathogens that cause foodborne illnesses.

Full Report.