CSPI 'Report Card' Grades States on Reporting Outbreaks of Food Borne Illness

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has issued a nationwide report card grading the 50 states and the District of Columbia on how well they detect, investigate, and report outbreaks of food borne illness, a report that finds great variability — "indicating that many states are only reporting a small fraction of the number of outbreaks as states with better detection and reporting systems," according to CSPI.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has issued a nationwide report card grading the 50 states and the District of Columbia on how well they detect, investigate, and report outbreaks of food borne illness, a report that finds great variability — "indicating that many states are only reporting a small fraction of the number of outbreaks as states with better detection and reporting systems," according to CSPI .

Using 10 years of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other sources, CSPI assigned a letter grade and created an outbreak profile for each state. CSPI used two states that are widely recognized for having strong investigating and reporting systems as benchmarks: Oregon and Minnesota , which report nine and eight outbreaks per million people per year, respectively. Those two states, and five states that reported equally high reporting rates for outbreaks, received A's from CSPI : Florida , Hawaii , Maryland , Washington and Wyoming .

In contrast, 14 states reported only one outbreak of food borne illness per million people: Arizona , Arkansas , Indiana , Kentucky , Louisiana , Mississippi , Missouri , Nebraska , Nevada , New Mexico , Oklahoma , South Carolina , Texas , and West Virginia .

"States that aggressively investigate outbreaks and report them to CDC can help nail down the foods that are responsible for making people sick," said CSPI food safety director Caroline Smith DeWaal. "But when states aren't detecting outbreaks, interviewing victims, identifying suspect food sources, or connecting with federal officials, outbreaks can grow larger and more frequent, putting more people at risk."

In its report, All Over the Map, CSPI acknowledges that it may seem counter-intuitive to give higher grades to states with more outbreaks. But, in fact, those states are the most likely to have robust detection and reporting systems, according to the group. The report card suggests that states that received 'D's or 'F's may lack adequate funding for public health services, leading to health departments that are understaffed and overburdened. 

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