Some good news from latest CDC Report
Today the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a new report on “Preliminary Incidence and Trends of Infection with Pathogen Transmitted Commonly Through Food – Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, 2006 through 2014.”
The report, known less formally as the “Food Safety Program Report,” shows a 32 percent decline in the incidence of laboratory-confirmed infections resulting from the pathogen E. coli 0157:H7. This is significant for the leafy greens industry since preventing the contamination of leafy greens fields from this particular pathogen is a key objective of mandatory food safety programs established in California and Arizona in 2007.
The CDC is calling its new report mixed bag with other pathogens, like salmonella and listeria, showing no change and there are increases in incidence of illnesses caused by campylobacter and vibrio. However, clearly strides have been made with E. coli. The CDC attributed the decline of STEC O157 infections to several factors related to food safety efforts, including changes in beef industry practices and government policy, which declared STEC O157 an adulterant in ground beef, as well as the ability to more quickly identify and remove contaminated products from the marketplace before more persons become ill.
In its report the CDC also specifically mentions improvements made by producers of leafy vegetables after a large outbreak in 2006 as a factor in decreased illnesses from E. coli. In response, the LGMA has issued the following statement:
“The LGMA and our members are very encouraged to see the decline in E. coli 0157:H7 since 2006. These numbers mean that fewer people are being affected by this tragic foodborne illness. The California and Arizona leafy greens communities share the commitment of government agencies like CDC and FDA in preventing foodborne illness. That is the goal of our mandatory food safety program and we continue to work toward continuous improvements in further reducing foodborne illness incidents.”
We are also stressing our work with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as it implements new food safety laws for all produce items through the Food Safety Modernization Act. We remind people the LGMA program includes mandatory government audits to ensure science-based food safety practices are being followed on leafy greens farms and that our program includes comprehensive training program for employees throughout the leafy greens industry to make sure they know how to follow required food safety practices and why these are so important.
As we all know, the leafy greens community’s goal is to have zero illnesses associated with our products. Our members work very hard to meet that goal. We want consumers to know this. We also want people to recognize our support of federal food safety laws and that measures contained within this law are already required through the LGMA. Certainly, news like what is in the CDC Food Safety Progress report is good for us all. The LGMA will continue to strive for improvements and to continue our vigilance in producing safe, healthy leafy greens.