Click here to view three tables that contain the latest information from CDC on the causes related to what microorganisms and foods make people ill and the contributing factors. Note that these data are a few years outdated.
In Table 1, "Estimated illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths," CDC says that Norwalk viruses are responsible for 66.6% of all foodborne illnesses. Second is Campylobacter spp. at 14.2%; third is Salmonella, non-typhoidal, at 9.7%. Giardia lamblia is next at 1.4%.
Table 2, "Number of reported foodborne-disease outbreaks, cases, and deaths, by vehicle of transmission," shows, interestingly, that the largest group of foods is shellfish and other fish at 6.74%. Second are meat and poultry at 6.38%. Third are salads at 4.68%. Fourth are fruits and vegetables at 2.6%. Finally, dairy products cause 1.98% of reported foodborne illness outbreaks.
Table 3 shows "Number of reported foodborne-disease outbreaks, by etiology and contributing factors." According to the data, the leading contributing factor is improper holding temperatures, with a total of 938 incidents. Second is poor personal hygiene with 490 incidents. Third is contaminated equipment with 400 incidents. Fourth is inadequate cooking with 274 incidents. Finally, food from unsafe sources had 153 incidents. This does not reflect common knowledge, which says that improper personal hygiene is the leading cause of foodborne illness.
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