We recently spotlighted the passing of the Food Safety Modernization Act in the U.S. Senate. Part of the data that supported the legislation, the number of people who die every year from food-borne illness, has been revised in the latest government estimates.
The good news? It’s now estimated at 3,000 deaths as opposed to 5,000. The bad news? That doesn’t mean our food supply is safer. Not to mention, I don’t know about you, but 3,000 people dying every year simply by eating bad food is still disturbing.
“Just because we have more precise data that allows us a better estimate, that doesn’t mean that food-borne illnesses have gone down that much,” says Kirk E. Smith, DVM, PhD, supervisor of the Foodborne Disease Unit of the Minnesota Department of Health.
There has been some progress made, according to Smith:
“E. coli 0157 has gone down quite a bit, presumably because of a lot of the work that industry and regulators are doing in beef processing plants. Listeria has gone down — probably the same story there,” he says.
But experts are still concerned with the lack of progress in fighting the most common food-borne illness: salmonella. Twenty-eight of fatalities due to food-borne illness comes from salmonella.
According to the CDC, the new estimates are not an indication of lower fatalities, rather a more precise indication of the actual numbers.