According to the New Mexico Environment Department, since 2002, reported cases of Salmonella in New Mexico have decreased from 338 cases to 288 cases through 2004, the most recent year for which data is available. That decrease represents a drop in the incidence of Salmonella of about 14.8 percent to 15.1 cases per 100,000 people. The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), which regulates the food service industry, has been working to increase awareness of food-borne illnesses by emphasizing regulatory public health issues during inspections, providing free food handling and preparation training classes throughout the state, working in conjunction with the Department of Health to assist investigating food-borne illness outbreaks.
Nationwide, there are an estimated six million to 33 million illnesses and as many as 9,000 deaths every year due to food-borne diseases.
“Most people take food safety for granted, but over the years there have been a number of large foodborne illness outbreaks around New Mexico,” NMED Secretary Ron Curry said. “Through our 23 field offices and 43 food inspectors we hope to deliver the message of food safety to restaurants and food establishments, which includes annual church cookouts and pancake fundraisers, that improperly cooked food can make you sick and can even kill.”
The New Mexico Environment Department permits and inspects more than 6,700 food establishments statewide with a staff of 43 inspectors, who are also responsible for a host of other field inspections, such as septic systems and swimming pools.