A Systems Approach to Crisis Preparedness and Organizational Resilience

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Foodborne Illness (also Foodborne Disease, also Food Poisoning)

Estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on December 15th, 2010 approximate that 48 million Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die each year as a result of foodborne diseases.  Given that the odds of becoming ill are 1 in 6 Americans, it is not a matter of if you might become sicked by a foodborne pathogen but when and how serious the illness will be.  Considering the fact that foodborne illnesses and death are preventable, it is unacceptable to think that someone in the United States is hospitalized every 10 minutes as a result of eating contaminated food.

Approximately 20% (9.4 million) of the 48 million annual illnesses are caused by 31 known foodborne pathogens [insert hyperlink here with data on 31 pathogens].


Foodborne illness usually arises from improper handling, preparation, or food storage.   The most common causes of foodborne illness, hospitalizations and death are from bacteria or bacterial exotoxins, viruses and parasites. Of the 9.4 million domestically-acquired foodborne illnesses caused by known pathogens  5.5 million (59%) were caused by viruses, 3.6 million (39%) were caused by bacteria, and 0.2 million (2%) by parasites.The pathogens responsible for causing the most illnesses were: norovirus (5.5 million, 58%), Salmonella (1.0 million, 11%), Clostridium perfingens (1.0 million, 10%) and Campylobacter (0.8 million, 9%)

Of the 228,744 annual hospitalizations resulting from foodborne disease, nearly 56,000 were caused by contaminated food eaten in the United States. Of these hospitalizations, 64% were caused by bacteria, 27% by viruses, and 9% by parasites. The leading causes of hospitalization were nontyphoidal Salmonella (35%), noroviurs (26%) Campylobacter (15%) and Toxoplasma gondii (8%). Of the 2,612 annual deaths resulting from foodborne disease, 1,351 were caused by contaminated food eaten in the United States.  Of these deaths, 64% were caused by bacteria, 25% by parasites, and 12% by viruses.

The leading cause of death were Salmonella (28%), Toxoplasma gondii (24%), Listeria monocytogenes (19%) and norovirus (11%).


From 2004-2009, 9-27% of cases of E.Coli O157 infection and 5-8% of cases of Salmonella infection were associated with outbreaks each year.  According to FoodNet recent outbreak investigations have identified novel contaminated food sources, including: jalapeno peppers, peanut butter--containing products, and raw cookie dough [Provide more information on specifics of each outbreak – in addition to inserting the hyperlink to the MMWR articles]


Foodborne illness usually arises from improper handling, preparation, or food storage. Food preparers should follow the easy lessons of "Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill":

Clean - Wash hands, utensils, and cutting boards before and after contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs to avoid spreading bacteria when preparing food.

Separate - Use different cutting boards for meat, poultry, seafood, and vegetables and keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs apart from foods that won’t be cooked.

Cook – Use a food thermometer - you can't tell if a food item is done by how it looks.

Chill - Keep your refrigerator at 40 degrees or below to keep bacteria from growing and chill leftovers and takeout foods within 2 hours.

TREATMENT (could do sub-pages for each of the microorganisms)

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION…(i.e. organizations, etc.) · CDC  FDA  WHO (IF I look at anything International…will likely keep focused on US-only though for incidence/epidemiology/etc.)


Foodborne illness from patient point-of-view

  o  Resiliency to illness/disease and any untoward outcome(s)

Foodborne illness from public health & medical provider point-of-view

Foodborne illness from company (with contaminated product) point-of-view

  o  Response to crisis

Foodborne Illness & Disease Jennifer Chapman


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Press Release: New estimates more precise.  December 15, 2010

Scallan, E, Hoekstra, RM, Augulo, RV, Tauxe, MW., Roy, SL, Jones, JL, Griffin, PM.  Foodborne Illness Acquired in the United States – Major Pathogens.  Emerging Infectious Diseases 17(1), January 2011

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preliminary FoodNet Data on the Incidence of Infection with Pathogens Transmitted Commonly Through Food --- 10 States, 2009.   Morbidity and Mortality Weekly. April 16, 2010 / 59(14);418-422.

 [For the future - my course project?]

I’d like to expand the above webpage(s) and create a website. For the website I’d create a series of real-life stories from infectious disease doctors, potentially from the City’s Health Department (maybe a restaurant inspector, food safety handler/personnel?), and (hopefully) from someone who has had personal experience with a foodborne illness.  It would be more detailed and involve more design than the webpages for the TOPIC section.  [Eventually -- likely in another course I'd like to expand this topic and develop a cirriculum targeting elementary school children including activities/projects for them to develop on their own or to learn from].

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Date Page Created: Feb 11, 2013 Last Page Update: May 6, 2013