The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has published a nationwide report card grade for all 50 states and DC on how well they detect, investigate, and report outbreaks of foodborne illness.
Using 10 years of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Outbreak Alert! database, 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. Those states, Oregon and Minnesota, have excellent laboratory facilities and public health departments that are quick to interview individuals who are suspected to have been outbreak “cases.” They 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: Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Washington, and Wyoming.
In contrast, 14 states reported only one outbreak of foodborne 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.”
"While it may seem counter-intuitive to give the best grade to states with the most outbreaks, those states are the most likely to have robust detection and reporting systems, not the most actual outbreaks."
The following is a breakdown of states according to letter grade:
"A" Grade (8 to 9 outbreaks per million people)
Oregon, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Washington, and Wyoming.
"B" Grade (6 to 7 outbreaks per million people)
Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Ohio, and Vermont.
"C" Grade (4 to 5 outbreaks per million people)
Alabama, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
"D" Grade (2 to 3 outbreaks per million people)
Delaware, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.
"F" Grade (1 outbreak per million people)
Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia.