Food Engineering

Health officials unclear on sources of foodborne illness

January 1, 2002
What pathogen is the leading cause of foodborne illness in the U.S.? Salmonella? E.coli 0157:H7?

If you guessed either of these, you're wrong, but you're not alone. According to Centers for Disease Control, the four pathogens most commonly believed by health officials to cause food-borne illness in the U.S. ¿ Salmonella, E. coli, Staphyloccus and shigella ¿ account for less than 13 percent of total cases.

More surprising, a statewide survey of Tennessee public health officials showed that only 3 percent of those surveyed correctly identified the leading culprit, Norwalk-like Virus (NLV), which is estimated to cause 67 percent of all foodborne illness in the U.S.

The survey results, published in a recent issue of CDC's Emerging Infectious Diseases, suggests that public health officials have incorrect perceptions about foodborne disease and need to better educate themselves on the subject.