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Food Illness Accountability Undermines Food Safety Overhaul: Food Safety Legislation Propped up by Antiquated Estimates Rather Than CDC Data

Foodborne illness is underreported, but 12 years of CDC FoodNet data collection confirms a difference of tens of millions between estimated and reported cases of food illness. The CDC, legislators and other public officials continue to use 10-year-old, non-substantiated estimates as the basis for recommending and funding national foodborne illness policy. When HR 2749 - Food Safety Overhaul - comes to the House floor this week, the Association for Food Illness Accountability asks legislators, "Why is the United States using ten-year-old estimates rather than documented cases to develop food safety strategies and legislation? If we are to solve the problem of foodborne illness we must accurately define the problem, be it the farm, the factory, or the home fridge."

Memphis, TN (PRWEB) -- Legislators are ignoring more than a decade's worth of CDC collected data as Rep. John Dingell's Food Safety bill HR 2749 moves to the House floor. The newly formed Association for Food Illness Accountability is asking why policy makers are relying on an unsubstantiated 1999 report when CDC's Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) confirms a discrepancy of tens of millions of cases of foodborne illness.

Despite the strides of FoodNet and the requirements of most states to report foodborne illness, the CDC and many legislators continue to quote a 1999 report, "Food-Related Illness and Death in the United States" based on approximations of passive data. The authors estimate 76 million cases of foodborne illness including 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths each year.

According to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), CDC reports 17,883 laboratory-confirmed cases of food illness infection in FoodNet surveillance areas for 2006. A total of 18,499 laboratory confirmed cases of foodborne illness were reported in 2008. Based on numerous CDC reports, this data remains relatively stable. The CDC also reports substantial declines in leading causes of illness (Campylobacter, Listeria, Shigella, E.coli, and Yersinia). Cases of Salmonella and Cryptosporidium are nearly unchanged, although not nearly approaching the nation's healthy target initiative. Only cases caused by Vibrio have increased substantially.

"Clearly no one knows how many cases of foodborne illness occur annually. If 5,000 deaths and 325,000 hospitalizations remain unaccounted for each year, Americans should be outraged," says Cindy Hazen, founder. "We've had a decade to begin correlating this report with laboratory confirmed cases and we've made no advances. If we are to solve the problem of foodborne illness we must accurately define the problem, be it the farm, the factory, or the home fridge."

The Association for Food Illness Accountability calls for emphasis on foodborne illness reporting to strategize targeted solutions. "Legislators need to know whether we're seeking cures for the common cold or pandemic flu," says Hazen. "Forty years ago, NASA pledged to send men into space. In 1958 NASA launched its first satellite and by 1969 Apollo 11's men were walking on the moon. Could NASA have been successful if they were using 10-year-old mathematical speculations? In the 21st century FDA can't eliminate food illness if CDC doesn't know the time, place or occurrence of infection. It's not enough to say we know it's a problem but we have to guess at the magnitude because most people don't report it."

About AFIA
Headquartered in Memphis, TN, the Association for Food Illness Accountability is dedicated to establishing the use of accurate data as the sole means for measuring the country's progress against foodborne illness. AFIA was born out of a concern that the CDC, legislators and other public officials continue to use 10-year-old, non-substantiated estimates as the basis for recommending and funding national foodborne illness policy. Data collected over the past 10 years from the CDC's own FoodNet has established a high degree of confidence and should immediately become the measuring stick used for further policy decisions and investment of taxpayer monies. For further information regarding AFIA please contact: AFIA at foodillnessaccountability dot com

Contact: Cindy Hazen
P: 901-726-1180


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