Statement of CFA's Carol Tucker Foreman on CDC FoodNet Data

April 29, 2004
Chris Waldrop

"It's always good news when food borne illness drops, but the detail in the MMWR is not as positive as the headlines. First, Listeria monocytogenes, which dropped for 4 years in a row, did not decline in 2003. This may be the result of USDA's very weak final rule on Listeria which does not require companies to test their product for Listeria monocytogenes after they have discovered the non-disease causing form of the bacteria. The decline in E. coli O157:H7 is substantial, but in the past, the number of cases of O157:H7 poisoning have dropped for one year and then gone up the next year. We have never been able to sustain a decline in this serious pathogen and in illnesses from this very serious pathogen. USDA should require all companies to test and hold all of their ground beef for E. coli if we want to see any sustained drop in this pathogen."

Carol Tucker Foreman is the Director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America.