After long last the CDC released its new numbers on CDC Estimates of Foodborne Illness in the United States and they are still problematic – CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 out of 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases.  See, Foodborne Illness Acquired in the United States—Major Pathogens and Foodborne Illness Acquired in the United States—Unspecified Agents.

Major Pathogens

Estimates of foodborne illness can be used to direct food safety policy and interventions. We used data from active and passive surveillance and other sources to estimate that each year 31 major pathogens acquired in the United States caused 9.4 million episodes of foodborne illness (90% credible interval [CrI] 6.6–12.7 million), 55,961 hospitalizations (90% CrI 39,534–75,741), and 1,351 deaths (90% CrI 712– 2,268). Most (58%) illnesses were caused by norovirus, followed by nontyphoidal Salmonella spp. (11%), Clostridium perfringens (10%), and Campylobacter spp. (9%). Leading causes of hospitalization were nontyphoidal Salmonella spp. (35%), norovirus (26%), Campylobacter spp. (15%), and Toxoplasma gondii (8%). Leading causes of death were nontyphoidal Salmonella spp. (28%), T. gondii (24%), Listeria monocytogenes (19%), and norovirus (11%). These estimates cannot be compared with prior (1999) estimates to assess trends because different methods were used. Additional data and more refined methods can improve future estimates.

Unspecified Agents

Each year, 31 major known pathogens acquired in the United States caused an estimated 9.4 million episodes of foodborne illness. Additional episodes of illness were caused by unspecified agents, including known agents with insufficient data to estimate agent-specific illness, known agents not yet recognized as causing foodborne illness, substances known to be in food but of unproven pathogenicity, and unknown agents. To estimate these additional illnesses, we used data from surveys, hospital records, and death certificates to estimate illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths from acute gastroenteritis and subtracted illnesses caused by known gastroenteritis pathogens. If the proportions acquired by domestic foodborne transmission were similar to those for known gastroenteritis pathogens, then an estimated 38.4 million (90% credible interval [CrI] 19.8–61.2 million) episodes of domestically acquired foodborne illness were caused by unspecified agents, resulting in 71,878 hospitalizations (90% CrI 9,924–157,340) and 1,686 deaths (90% CrI 369–3,338).

Here is a handy visual guide to the new numbers.

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 Here is also a great article on how to explain the above numbers and compare it to the 1999 Mead estimates of 76,000,000 illnesses, 325,000 hospitlizations and 5,000 deaths related to food.  See, How Safe Is Our Food?