Salmonella and Foodborne Illness Rates Update


Salmonella -- not part of a healthy diet

Hundreds of millions of eggs are being recalled because they may be contaminated with the foodborne bacterium salmonella which causes diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea among those unfortunate enough to become infected. It is estimated that as many 1.4 million Americans become infected each year and perhaps as many as 500 die of the disease. So how bad is the current outbreak? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just released data that suggests that the outbreak rose to four times the normal rate—from about 55 cases to about 220 reported cases per week in June.

Number of Salmonella Enteritidis cases matching PFGE pattern JEGX01.0004 reported to PulseNet, United States, 2010

Number of Salmonella Enteritidis cases matching PFGE pattern JEGX01.0004 reported to PulseNet, United States, 2010

*Date of isolation by week.

In May 2010, CDC identified a nationwide increase in the number of Salmonella Enteritidis isolates with PFGE pattern JEGX01.0004 uploaded to PulseNet, the national subtyping network made up of state and local public health laboratories and federal food regulatory laboratories that performs molecular surveillance of foodborne infections.  This increase is evident in the epidemic curve, or epi curve. During May 1 to July 31, 2010, a total of 1,953 illnesses were reported. However, some of these cases may not be related to this outbreak. Based on the previous 5 years of reports to PulseNet, we would expect approximately 700 illnesses during this same period.

To put this outbreak in perspective, it bucks a decade long trend toward lower reported incidence for most foodborne illness according to data from the CDC's FoodNet reporting system:

In comparison with the 1996–1998 period, rates of infection in 2009 were lower for Shigella (55% decrease), Yersinia (53% decrease), STEC O157 (41% decrease), Campylobacter (30% decrease), Listeria (26% decrease), and Salmonella (10% decrease); rates were higher for Vibrio (85% increase).

The FDA is asking for greater enforcement powers as a way to prevent future outbreaks. A technical fix for the problem might be inoculating chickens with a new salmonella vaccine.


NEXT: L.A. Times Runs Most Biased Top Story Ever Published In Any Free-World Newspaper

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. She also had some practical advice for consumers: Reject over-easy eggs. She said that as federal investigators continue their work with the companies involved, consumers should strictly avoid “runny egg yolks for mopping up with toast.”

    Fuck The FDA

      1. Funny, you don’t sound Mexican.

        1. Sono nato in Italia stronzo!

          1. C’? una melanzana nel tuo boffo.

    1. Who needs the FDA? The market will sort this out. Once enough people die, that company will pull up its socks or face market discicpline! Don’t fuck with the MARKET!

  2. It’s Bush’s fault.

  3. If we were China for a day the chief FDA bureaucrat would develop a case of lead poisoning.

    1. How long would we have to remain China for all of congress, the supreme court, and all the executive bureaus to succumb to lead poisoning as well?

      I could do a month or two of mandatory calisthenics.

      1. If we call it Tai Chi, it’s all good.

  4. That’s a toughie. Cook your food, or give government more power. I’m stumped. Help me Obi-Wan!

  5. Alternate Scary Headline:

    Salmonella responsible for fewer deaths than aspirin.

    (Damn, i suck at fearmongering. Still, GIVE ME MOAR POWER!!! MUWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA)

    1. The laugh’s on you, wylie. We’re mandating pasteurized aspirin.

  6. What We Do: “The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation. The FDA is also responsible for advancing the public health by helping to speed innovations that make medicines and foods more effective, safer, and more affordable; and helping the public get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medicines and foods to improve their health.”

    Oh, the FDA is too modest. Don’t forget all the “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration” statements.

    1. That’s my favorite part.

      “Ok, we’re making a step forward here. No longer will flimflam artists be able to ply there wares on an uninformed populace, with false claims of effect. Well, I mean, can still ply their snake oil, but they have to use tinytext to obfuscate their lies.”

      1. there -> their. too many big words in there for me to check the small ones…

      2. I quite strongly disagree with your implication here. You’re taking a very pro-regulation viewpoint.

        FDA regulation for effectiveness is costly and costs lives.

        Currently we have a bizarre situation where a legitimate drug doesn’t really have the option to bypass FDA effectiveness regulation and play by pre-1960s rules, but snake oil does. We would be better off without the FDA effectiveness rules.

        1. I don’t see why being anti-fake-regulation and being anti-regulation have to be mutually exclusive.

  7. From a commentator at Althouse a couple of days ago.

    You should look into some of the regulations currently being considered by the FDA and USDA. These regs are going to increase the price of food considerably, if they are put into place – and they are doing it all under the guise of food safety.

    These regs will also likely put small producers like myself out of business. I’ll still raise chickens for our eggs, but I’ll be disallowed from selling the eggs to anyone else unless I take some draconian steps and agree to paperwork for each individual chicken from hatching until death – if a skunk, opossum, raccoon, coyote or hawk kills a chicken, I’d have to report that to the government.…..7912873614

    The FDA is a menace.

    1. Yep, but it’s fair because fecal farms only need one RFID for an entire flock as opposed to small producers which we’ll require to have one RFID per bird… to level teh playing field.

      FUCK the FDA and FUCK the USDA/FSIS.

      1. Wait, there *is* a place where you can farm shit? I thought that only happened in Camelot.

  8. We need the FDA because cooking an egg is too difficult for the average person to handle.

    1. Hey, I can’t for the life of me manage a softboiled egg. Always comes out hardboiled.

      Where’s my Softboiled Egg Czar, huh Obama?!

    2. It is in the military.

  9. Hey guise, you missed it; the bots were communicating with one another:…..nt_1864801

  10. What we need is microstamping of each egg.

    Better yet – genetically engineer the chickens so that the nidamental gland prints a bar code on each egg as it passes through.

    1. Frankenchickens!? Teh horror.

        1. Great, lets make chickens harder to catch.

    2. Better yet, a repeal of zoning codes that prohibit backyard coops.

      1. Oh man, the pants-wetting progressives would be all over that in a second with their “public health is an accomplishment that should not be rolled back” bullshit.

        1. 1. Chickens are nasty ass animals. If you have ever been around them, you wouldn’t want to eat them.

          2. Most people who would want to keep chickens in their backyard, are probably immigrants, whom the progressives claim to love.

          1. Backyard/urban chicken coops are OK with your greener progressives. Local/organic food and all that. It’s a fucking fad right now. I’m surprised you don’t have first-hand experience with it. Do you live in some gated HOA bubble?

            1. Nope. I live near the aging harmless liberals. I don’t live with the dirty hippies in Takoma Park who would do something like that. Chickens stink to high heaven. I am all for being able to do what you want with your land. But a chicken coup’s odor is a trespass. Unless he only kept a few and was extremely good about cleaning the coup, no way would I want a neighbor having chickens.

              1. That’s the Nuclear-Free Republic of Takoma Park, John.

                1. Had they not passed that resolution and set such a good example, most people agree that Silver Spring and Bethesda would both have the bomb by now.

                  1. The District certainly does.

              2. Anarchists posing as libertarians would say that you have no right to prohibit having farm animals in residential neighborhoods, regardless of the stench.

                1. Get a covenant or HOA if you don’t want to live near chickens lady

                  1. No. They are a nuisance. If they stink bad enough and ruin my enjoyment of my property and were not there when I moved in, I can sue you.

              3. We live next door to an urban chicken coop–not smelly at all!

          2. All animals are nasty. Chicken shit is one of the most persistent odors you will find. You can smell it on timbers of a barn that has not held chickens for 100 years. But I still have no problem eating them, because I own a refrigerator and cook my food.

            Regulations that would prevent small producers from selling their eggs would be terrible. A lot of people where I live raise chickens on a small scale and eggs from free range chickens that can walk around and eat bugs and stuff are a lot better than grocery store eggs. Chickens are also the most effective way to control ticks and grasshoppers.

            1. Very true. If you live out in the country or have neighbors who don’t mind, they are handy animals to have around. And it is idiotic not to let people sell their own eggs.

              Another animal that is good to keep in cities is pigeons. They are a delicacy everywhere but the US.

            2. Zeb advocates that we vicariously eat bugs. VOTE KODOS!

          3. hmmm …. we’ve got three (hens) in our back yard. They don’t seem too bad, or stinky. Guess quantity is important here. I can see how having a whole bunch would be bad.

        2. Not if it were sold as being “green”.

          Consider that having a clothesline used to be a low class marker until somebody decided that drying your clothes on a line was “green”.

      2. KPLU: Seattle Approves Urban Farm Legislation (2010-08-16)

        KPLU News Staff (2010-08-16)
        SEATTLE, WA (KPLU) – The Seattle City Council has approved a bill that supports the rapidly growing local food movement. The ordinance updates the City’s Land Use code governing urban agriculture – including “urban farms” and “community gardens.” And residents will now be able to sell food grown on their property. This legislation formally recognizes Farmer’s markets – allowing them in more areas of Seattle. And it’s not just about fruits and vegetables. The ordinance gives residents the option of having more chickens per lot – from three to eight. But it prohibits new roosters and sets boundaries for chicken coops – ten feet away from primary residential structures.

        1. Rooster bans? How are you supposed to keep sportin’ chickens?

          1. Roosters really do crow with the sunrise and sometimes before. They will drive you fucking nuts.

            1. Roosters do suck. They are mean bastards too. I was terrified of them for a while when I was little after one tore my leg open.

              1. We used to shoot bottle rockets at them. And then whine to my grandfather about how they attacked us for no reason. My cousins and I were nasty children.

          2. But they make great Croc De Vin, which is what would happen to anyone’s rooster who lived near me.

            1. Croc De Vin, which is what would happen to anyone’s rooster who lived near me.

              The rooster is just bait? :o)

          3. Since my closest neighbor is 485 feet away, 15 feet from the property line, I’m liking the whole 10 foot placement idea.

          4. You bring in a rooster stud, perhaps.

            Of course Chauntecleer can tell you that won’t keep the foxes away.

            1. Chickens are cheap. Do you really need to be breeding your own? Unless you are working on that great line of fighting roosters you plan to take to San Juan, it is really not very cost effective to have a rooster.

            2. You only really need a rooster for making more chickens. Hens will lay sterile eggs without “teh sexy times.”

  11. But won’t inoculating chickens just cause a different type of freakout?

    1. “Eggs Cause Autism, Tonight at ’11.”

      Just can’t win.

    2. I’m more concerned about autistic chickens. I mean, can you imagine a world without the antics of this guy?

  12. Well, I was just hoping OrganicGirl had been on this thread. I go all Chris Matthews and get a thrill up my leg every time H&R runs a story on health, food or medicine because I just know she’ll be on here spewing bullshit theories about man-induced crises and how corn is evil in it’s curent incarnation or some other non-sensical rubbish.

    Meh, at least it gives me a reason to come back in a bit.

    1. I love organic girl.


    “In other news, it looks like the Big One is closer to hitting LA than previously thought.

    University of California at Irvine and Arizona State University scientists examined the geological record stretching back 700 years along the fault line 160 kilometers (100 miles) northwest of Los Angeles.

    They found that strong earthquakes — between 6.5 and 7.9 magnitude — shook the area every 45-144 years, instead of the previously established 250-400 years.

    Since the last big 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck southern California in 1857, or 153 years ago, scientists believe the next “Big One” could happen at any time.”…..erdue.html

    When it happens, it will be like Katrina with celebrities.

    1. Death by silicone jiggle.

    2. As long as we have to send in Snake Plissken to the now separated from the mainland LA, I’m all for the next Big One.

    3. Will it at least make us forget about 9/11?

  14. CNN’s Ali Velshi was spewing disinformation, trying to say its never safe to eat raw eggs, then goes on to mention products that contain raw eggs! First of all, fresh eggs stored properly are safe to consume. Second, in his tips to avoid getting food poisoning he should have mentioned that consuming alcoholic beverages reduces your risk of becoming sick with food poisoning.

    1. *First of all, fresh eggs stored properly are safe to consume raw.

  15. Organic food is just like celebrities refusing to vaccinate their children.

    We need to fight this tooth and nail.

    For the kids.

  16. Oh, jumping jeebus!

    When will people learn about absolute risk? It’s absolute risk that determines whether you should bother altering your habits or not.

    I don’t fell like doing the math but its clear that 500 deaths a year in a population of 300 million translates into a lifetime risk of 0.000016% chance of dying from Salmonella. In other words, your are 99.999985% lifetime safe against Salmonella. How much more safe do you want to be?

    Eggs don’t even cause most of all Salmonella cases. They are just the easiest to track owing to modern supply chain computerization and genetic testing.

    Given all this, why should you change you egg eating habit at all?

    Any report, press release or government spokesman who doesn’t talk about absolute risk is effectively lying. It’s like a compulsive disorder for them.

    Tar and feathers is a good topical treatment

    1. In other words, your are 99.999985% lifetime safe against Salmonella. How much more safe do you want to be?

      Right?! Cmon guys, 100% safety means the FDA has to euthanize you before you ever eat an egg.

      This Absolute Safety Attitude is hampering our ability to eat raw eggs/milk colonize space.

    2. What’s absolute your risk if you have a dozen of the recalled eggs in your fridge and love them yokes runny?

      1. umm…er…that would “your absolute risk” not “absolute your risk”


    Great NYT editorial explaining the stupidity of insisting on “locally grown”.

  18. And it is idiotic not to let people sell their own eggs.

    Bailey? Is that you in there?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.