The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released its annual summary of foodborne disease outbreaks for 2012.

During 2012, the CDC said 831 foodborne disease outbreaks were reported, resulting in 14,972 illnesses, 794 hospitalizations and 23 deaths. That total, thankfully, was down from 2011, when 1,750 hospitalizations and 68 deaths were reported from foodborne illness outbreaks.

The refined and sorted data for 2012 showed foodborne disease outbreaks per million of population ranged from 1 outbreak per million in Mississippi to 11.4 outbreaks per million in Rhode Island.

Nearly 60% of outbreaks were linked to restaurants, with 14% linked to a caterer or banquet facility and 13% from food eaten at home.

A reason for continuing concern, pathogen-food category pairs responsible for the most illnesses were led by salmonella in fruits (446 illnesses), followed by salmonella in fish (425 illnesses) and salmonella in chicken (345 illnesses).

Hospitalizations were led by salmonella in chicken (109 hospitalizations), salmonella in fruits (55 hospitalizations) and salmonella in fish (55 hospitalizations).

The CDC report shows a decline in outbreaks, illnesses and deaths from 2011 to 2012, perhaps indicating progress by the food and produce industry in creating a culture of food safety and contributing to a decrease in foodborne illness outbreaks.

Even so, with thousands stricken every year and far too many stricken severely, there is much more work to do.

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