Category Archives: Foodborne Illness

Research – Root Cause Analyses Are ‘Critical to Preventing Foodborne Illnesses’

PEW Trusts

When foodborne illnesses are linked to products regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, the agency’s top priority is limiting harm to consumers with swift removal of unsafe items from the market. But FDA’s work doesn’t end there. The agency increasingly uses an investigative approach called root cause analysis (RCA) to identify how and why dangerous bacteria or other pathogens contaminated specific products and what steps could help businesses prevent a recurrence of these problems. The FDA publicly shares findings and recommended corrective actions from each RCA so that food growers and manufacturers across an industry can apply them to their food safety systems.

Frank Yiannas, deputy commissioner for food policy and response, heads FDA’s efforts to reduce food contamination risks and respond to foodborne outbreaks. He spoke with The Pew Charitable Trusts about the importance of RCA in this work and cited a new Pew report that offers guidance for effective analyses to food companies and government agencies. His responses have been edited for clarity and length.

USA – Listeria Outbreak linked to China Buffet in Alexandria, Minnesota

Food Poison Journal

Local and tribal health department: Please forward to hospitals, clinics, urgent care centers, emergency departments, and convenience clinics in your jurisdiction.
Hospitals, clinics and other facilities: Please distribute to infection preventionists, internists, infectious disease doctors, OB-GYN physicians, family physicians, emergency department staff and all other health care providers who might see patients with bacteremia or meningitis.
Health care providers:
•Consider listeriosis in patients who present with compatible symptoms (listed below), especially among individuals who ate or may have eaten at China Buffet restaurant in Alexandria.
•Be aware that two cases of listeriosis have been identified in Minnesotans who ate at China Buffet in Alexandria on February 15; one was a previously healthy teenager.
•Report all cases with positive Listeria monocytogenes results (including both culture and culture-independent tests) to MDH at 1-877-676-5414 (toll-free) or 651-201-5414, and forward clinical specimens to the MDH Public Health Laboratory per normal reportable disease surveillance procedures.

Research – Prevalence of Salmonella spp. and Campylobacter spp. in alternative and conventionally produced chicken in the United States: A systematic review and meta-analysis


The burden of foodborne illness linked to the consumption of contaminated broiler meat is high in the United States. With the increase in popularity of alternative poultry rearing and production systems, it is important to identify the difference in food safety risks presented by alternative systems when compared to conventional methods. While many studies have been conducted surveying foodborne pathogen prevalence along the broiler supply chain, a systematic overview of all of the available results is lacking. In the current study, a systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted to quantify the differences in Salmonella spp. and Campylobacter spp. prevalence in farming environment, rehang, prechill, postchill, and retail samples between conventional and alternative production systems. A systematic search of Web of Science and PubMed databases was conducted to identify eligible studies. Studies were then evaluated by inclusion criteria, and included studies were qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed. In total, 137 trials from 72 studies were used in the final meta-analysis. Meta-analysis models were individually constructed for subgroups that were determined by sample type, pathogen, and production type. All subgroups possessed high amounts of heterogeneity (I 2 > 75%). For environmental sample subgroups, Campylobacter prevalence was estimated to be 15.8 and 52.8% for conventional and alternative samples, respectively. Similar prevalence estimates for both production types were observed for Salmonella environmental samples and all retail samples. For conventional samples, Campylobacter and Salmonella prevalence was highest in prechill samples, followed by rehang and postchill samples, respectively. The presented results will be of use in future quantitative microbial risk assessments to characterize the differences in foodborne illness risks presented by different broiler production systems.

UK – New research shows societal burden of foodborne illness in the UK


The FSA Board has welcomed a report which presents new comprehensive estimates of the societal burden caused by foodborne illnesses in the UK.

The outcome of an extensive programme of work conducted over a five-year period was scrutinised by Members at the FSA Board Meeting, and provides a more in depth understanding of the wider impacts of foodborne diseases such as norovirus, campylobacter and listeria.

For the first time, the study also incorporates estimates based on the impacts of foodborne illness cases where a specific pathogen is not identified, often as a result of people not seeking medical attention.

The new model which produced the estimates follows an established process used in the UK and internationally to assess the financial impacts and the ‘human costs’ such as pain grief and suffering and changes to quality and length of life.

Estimates for these ‘human costs’ were developed in part by surveying more than 4,000 people to produce monetised values to measure the impact of different foodborne pathogens.

This will allow for these intangible human impacts to be considered alongside financial impacts when decisions relating to foodborne illnesses are made.

The model shows that for 2018:

  • the burden arising from the 13 main foodborne pathogens is around £3bn. Norovirus imposes the greatest burden at an estimated annual cost of £1.68bn followed by Campylobacter spp. (£0.71bn) and Salmonella spp. (non-typhoidal) (£0.21bn).
  • foodborne illness cases where a pathogen was not identified causes an estimated societal burden of around £6bn.
  • Taken together, the two estimates lead to a headline figure of approximately £9bn, as the annual cost burden of foodborne illness in the UK in 2018.
  • cases of Campylobacter, which are more common but generally less severe, impose a burden of £2,380 each while Listeria, the least common of the 13 measured, has a burden equivalent to £230,748 due to a higher proportion of fatalities, resulting in a higher ‘human cost’.


The Board welcomed the work and the report’s findings which provides the FSA with a more robust and comprehensive awareness of the impact of all foodborne illnesses and an additional tool to direct future decisions on prevention.

Heather Hancock, Chair of The Food Standards Agency said:

“I welcome this vital new research.  Being able to put a cost on the personal, social and economic burden when someone becomes ill as a result of food, represents a milestone for the FSA.

“We will use this new analysis of the cost of illness, and how it varies between different germs, to help set our priorities for tackling foodborne illness and to focus the FSA’s expertise, money and influence.”


Professor Rick Mumford, Head of Science Evidence and Research at the Food Standards Agency said:

“For the first time this model gives the FSA and other partners a much more detailed picture of how foodborne illnesses can impact society.

“We have designed it from the ground up to measure the impacts of specific pathogens as well as for the first time providing an estimate of the majority of cases where no pathogen is attributed.

“As a result, we are now equipped with robust, quantitative evidence on the impact of foodborne disease which significantly strengthens our decision-making ability.”


Richard Smith, Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor and Professor of Health Economics at the University of Exeter said:

“Providing an understanding of the impact of foodborne disease on individuals and wider society is a critical building block to understanding where and how to best deal with it.

“The FSA has a rich history of developing such analyses, and this latest work builds on that with significant revisions and updates to provide the most robust values yet of the societal impact of foodborne disease.

“This provides a robust, powerful and flexible tool to assist FSA in determining its priorities for tackling foodborne disease, which remains a serious challenge for our society.”

FSA economists worked with academics from leading UK universities to develop the Cost of Illness (COI) model to identify and measure all the costs of a particular disease.

The model is loosely based on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)’s Cost to Britain model (Opens in a new window)which estimates the annual cost of workplace fatalities, self-reported injuries and ill health at £15bn.

This new model was quality assured internally and externally by independent experts and represents a significant improvement from the previous, much simpler model used to estimate the burden of foodborne illness. Further work is currently ongoing to apply these methodologies to other areas, including food allergy and hypersensitivity.

Notes to Editors


The Burden of Foodborne Disease in the UK 2018 Report

Other notes

Comparisons to previous estimates is not possible as this is the first time that the FSA have estimated the total burden of foodborne illness.

This estimate is therefore inevitably greater than the estimates for identifiable cases alone for the following reasons:

  • this is the first time we are measuring cases where no specific pathogen is attributed, which account for 60% of cases
  • the estimated number of illnesses cases attributed to foodborne illnesses has increased from 1 million to 2.4 million as announced last month
  • The new model uses a different methodology to calculate the non-financial ‘human costs’, which account for almost 80% of the overall burden

Pakistan – 168 people hospitalised for food poisoning in Rahim Bughio

The Tribune

LARKANA: As many as 168 people were brought to the hospital suffering from food poisoning on Saturday, said Chandka Medical College Hospital (CMCH) medical superintendent Dr Syed Ershad Hussain Kazmi. Two adult patients were in critical condition.

According to Dr Kazmi, the patients brought to the hospital had apparently consumed contaminated food, consisting of chapatti and chicken karahi, at a ceremony in Rahim Bughio village.

According to the hospital management, 22 affected children had been admitted for treatment. Besides, 86 adults were brought to the CMCH casualty department. Out of them, over 25 were discharged while 20 others were admitted.

USA – Enoki Mushrooms Listeria Monocytogenes Outbreak Sickens 36

Food Poisoning Bulletin

At least 36 people are sick in an enoki mushroom Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to product imported from Korea. The mushrooms were imported by Sun Hong Foods. The mushrooms were just recalled after a sample tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. There is zero tolerance for Listeria monocytogenes contamination in ready to eat foods in this country.

Enoki Mushrooms Listeria Monocytogenes Outbreak Sickens 36

Research -Foodborne Illness Pathogens And Fecal Contaminants Found On New Disposable Gloves

Yahoo Finance

New results of microbial testing of the surfaces of unused disposable gloves, in association with Eagle Protect PBC, have found bacterial genera and species specific to foodborne illnesses (FBI), food spoilage and skin infections. Strains of these microorganisms of concern were present on new and unused disposable gloves currently being used in the US food industry, and in some cases as medical exam gloves. Twenty-five (25) different brands of gloves were analyzed, providing specific profiles in respect to their manufacturing standards, or lack thereof. Food, dermal and respiratory pathogens as well as spoilage species were linked to the use of polluted water sources; sewage (fecal pollution); and human and animal gut bacteria introduced into glove production environments.