CDC says foodborne illness fell during pandemic

October 7, 2021

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds a 26 percent decline in foodborne infections in 2020, compared to the previous three-year average.

The report, using FoodNet data, showed that infections from common pathogens dropped sharply. Salmonella incidence dropped 22 percent, while the incidence of Listeria fell 27 percent. According to CDC, the reasons for the decline may include:

  • Public health interventions like restrictions on international travel reduced opportunities for exposure;
  • Restaurant closures meant fewer exposures in those settings, which are frequently where contamination occurs;
  • Changes in what CDC calls “health-seeking behaviors,” like willingness to go to a doctor’s office, may have meant that a much higher share of infections went undetected; and
  • Greater use of telemedicine limited the analysis of stool samples, also contributing to undetected cases.