Inconsistent Reporting Leaves Country Vulnerable to Foodborne Illnesses

The Washington Post (10/9, Levy, Yerardi, Volz) reported that “inconsistent reporting of foodborne illnesses such as listeria, salmonella and E. coli leaves large portions of the country vulnerable to the spread of potentially deadly outbreaks before health officials can identify their causes and recall contaminated foods.” The Post explained that “the breakdown between stringent and lax reporting requirements among states holds true for most illnesses, provided that requirements exist at all. The CDC recommends reporting for 20 foodborne illnesses, but fewer than half of the states require reporting for all of them.” The Post added that one of the reasons for this is a lack of funding which leaves some states with “fewer resources to test samples, conduct interviews and undertake investigations.” Listeria outbreak has sickened 109, killed 21. The AP(10/8) reported, “Federal health authorities say a nationwide outbreak of listeria in Colorado cantaloupes is now responsible for 21 deaths and the number may continue to grow. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday reported new deaths in Indiana and New York,” and “confirmed a death in Wyoming that state officials reported last week.” It also reported that “109 people have been sickened in the outbreak.” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said that “the agency is still investigating the cause of the outbreak.”