Using data from twenty years of Salmonella foodborne outbreaks, this study investigates significant trends in the proportion of outbreaks associated with twelve broad commodity groups. Outbreak counts are demonstrated to have a stronger trend signal than outbreak illness counts.
The number of outbreaks with an identified food vehicle increased significantly between 1998 and 2000. This was followed by a 10-year period when the number of outbreaks decreased. The number of outbreaks increased significantly between 2010 and 2014 and then remained unchanged for the remainder of the study period.
During the period of 1998 through 2017, the proportion of outbreaks for three commodities groups, consisting of eggs, pork, and seeded vegetables, changed significantly. No significant changes were observed in the remaining nine commodity groups. Simple approximations are derived to highlight the effect of dependencies between outbreak proportions and a consumption analysis for meat and poultry is used to enhance the limited interpretability of the changes in these proportions.
Given commodity-specific approaches to verifying food safety and promoting pathogen reduction, regulatory agencies benefit from analyses that elucidate illness trends attributable to the products under their jurisdiction. Results from this trend analysis can be used to inform the development and assessment of new pathogen reduction programs in the United States.