In 2016, 839 foodborne disease outbreaks were reported to CDC, according to a recently released annual summary from the National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS). The data come from reports that state, local, and territorial public health agencies submitted to the Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System using NORS, and includes single-state and multistate outbreaks.
CDC estimates that each year in the United States, about 9.4 million people get ill from 31 known foodborne germs. These illnesses lead to about 56,000 hospitalizations and 1,350 deaths. Although most foodborne illnesses are not part of a recognized outbreak, outbreaks provide important information on the agents (germs, toxins, and chemicals) that cause illness, the foods responsible, and the settings that lead to transmission.
The main findings from the annual summary include:
- Reported foodborne disease outbreaks resulted in 14,259 illnesses, 875 hospitalizations, 17 deaths, and recalls of 18 food products.
- Norovirus was the most frequently reported cause, with 145 outbreaks and 3,794 outbreak-associated illnesses.
- Salmonella was the second most common cause, with 132 outbreaks and 3,047 outbreak-associated illnesses.
- Restaurants were linked to outbreaks more often than any other place where food was prepared, as in previous reports. Restaurants were associated with 459 outbreaks, accounting for 61% of outbreaks that reported a single location where food was prepared. Most of these restaurant outbreaks (363) were reported at establishments offering sit-down dining.
The most common food categories linked to outbreaks were:
- Fish (26 outbreaks)
- Mollusks, such as oysters and scallops (21 outbreaks)
- Dairy (19 outbreaks; all involving unpasteurized products)
- Pork (18 outbreaks)
The food categories responsible for the most outbreak-associated illnesses were:
- Mollusks (529 illnesses)
- Pork (438 illnesses)
- Grains and beans (383 illnesses)
- Chicken (356 illnesses)
There were 39 multistate outbreaks, including the following types of foods linked to them:
- Sprouts (4 outbreaks)
- Beef (3 outbreaks)
- Seeded vegetables, such as cucumbers (3 outbreaks)
- Fruit (3 outbreaks)
- Nuts and seeds (3 outbreaks)
- Chicken (2 outbreaks)
- Vegetable row crops, such as leafy greens (2 outbreaks)