What is a foodborne illness?
Foodborne illness is a serious public health problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) most recent estimates use numbers from 2000-2008 and show that 47.8 million illnesses, 127,839 hospitalizations, and 3,037 deaths can be attributed to foodborne illness every year in the United States. Recent changes in human demographics and food preferences, changes in food production and distribution systems, microbial adaptation, and lack of support for public health resources and infrastructure have led to the emergence of novel as well as traditional foodborne diseases. With increasing travel and trade opportunities, it is not surprising that the risk of contracting and spreading a foodborne illness now exists locally, regionally, and even globally.
Physicians have a critical role in the prevention and control of food-related disease outbreaks. This primer is intended to help physicians in this role by providing them with practical and concise information on the diagnosis, treatment, and reporting of foodborne illnesses. It was developed collaboratively by the American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, and the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service as part of President Clinton's National Food Safety Initiative.