The Center for Science in the Public Interest announced today that it has launched a new database that contains details about foodborne illness outbreaks.  In its press release, CSPI stated:

CSPI has long maintained an offline database of foodborne illness outbreaks, compiled largely from the data issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s surveillance unit. For the early years, CSPI added data culled from state health departments, peer-reviewed medical journals, and verified media reports. (In the past, CDC did not make outbreak data public, but that changed when CSPI started filing Freedom of Information Act requests for it. Now CDC releases data about two years after the outbreaks occurred.) CSPI’s database includes all outbreaks (where two or more individuals got sick from eating the same food) for which both the food source and the pathogen have been identified. The database released today covers the years 1990 to 2004. Additional data on 2005 is available from CSPI, and will be released later this year.

The new online database lets individuals search by food, by pathogen, or by state. And the results aren’t pretty. Take poultry. The database includes 541 outbreaks and 16,280 associated illnesses. A search on produce reveals 639 outbreaks and 31,496 associated illnesses. Multi-ingredient items—sandwiches, salads, pasta, and other foods—were linked to 948 outbreaks and 27,812 associated illnesses.

Click here to access the CSPI food poisoning database.