For those in the foodservice industry, the safety, freshness and deliciousness of their products is always a concern. This applies to large and small-scale food manufacturers, farmers, distributors that ship around the nation, small, local restaurateurs and everyone in between. But recent multistate outbreaks of foodborne illnesses are causing increased pressure on the food industry to keep things safe and prevent disease.

The Problem

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report looked at foodborne illness outbreaks across the US in recent years. The main concern of the report, and the cause of increased attention on food safety, were outbreaks involving patients in multiple states – outbreaks that tend to be both more serious, and more difficult to track down. In these cases, investigators across the country have to try to identify the common foodborne source – which can sometimes be a single ingredient that patients aren’t even aware they consumed.

From 2010 to 2014, multistate outbreaks accounted for only 3% of outbreaks, but they caused over half (56%) of the foodborne outbreak deaths. About 24 multistate outbreaks were reported each year in the US, and the number of states involved has ranged from two to as many as 37 states in recent years. A total of 120 such outbreaks were discovered between 2010 to 2014 – up from the 79 discovered between 2005 and 2009.

What This Means for the Industry

The report suggested that more of these outbreaks might be appearing due to an increasingly wide food distribution chain and improving investigation methods that are better able to identify cases in different states as caused by a single source. In response to these concerns about multistate outbreaks, changes might be ahead. The federal government will likely be implementing new food safety laws and regulations, and working with local regulators to update food safety inspection guidelines, as well as identifying better methods – like DNA sequencing – for tracking outbreaks. Those in the industry should keep on the lookout for new policies, procedures and regulations regarding food safety.

Renewed Focus on Sanitation and Safety

CDC has recommended a number of steps those in the food industry should take to help combat outbreaks, including keeping detailed records that can track foods all the way from their original source to their final destination. Those in the food industry should not only make sure that they are using good safety practices, but that they are careful to choose suppliers who are also concerned about food safety. CDC also recommended efforts to integrate food safety as a part of company culture, as well as efforts to communicate recall information to customers.

And as always, sanitation will continue to be an integral part of food safety. As foodborne illness concerns grow, regulations and expectations regarding sanitation might increase, too. GermLogic offers a range of sanitation services that can help the food industry stay ahead of the curve. Our solutions, including antimicrobial products, Thermal Heat Sanitation and UVC Sanitation, can kill a wide range of pathogens – including those often tied to foodborne illness, like E. coli and Salmonella. Contact us today to learn more.