Baylen Linnekin: Is Foodborne Illness on the Rise?

What is the role of government in making our food safer?


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The past few weeks have seen what may be an unprecedented number of headlines around the world pertaining to foodborne illness. A number of these illnesses have proven fatal.

Despite this news and the prevalence of Buzzfeed-worthy foodborne illness headlines, the domestic food supply is still remarkably safe—and among the safest in the world, according to Baylen Linnekin. CDC data indicate that foodborne illness is not on the rise in the United States. Agency data from 2013 show only one statistically significant increase in illnesses caused by various pathogens (vibrio), while showing statistically significant decreases in illnesses caused by two key pathogens—listeria and salmonella.

But is the overall safety of our food supply enough to warn off regulations? What, if anything, is the government's proper role in preventing foodborne illness and punishing food adulteration?