Incarcerated Persons Experience More Outbreak-Associated Foodborne Illnesses

Researchers present the first update on the epidemiology of U.S. foodborne correctional institution outbreaks in 20 years in a new study in the American Journal of Public Health. They analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System to describe correctional institution outbreaks from 1998-2014 and compare them with other foodborne outbreaks.

Results found 200 foodborne outbreaks in correctional institutions were reported, resulting in 20,625 illnesses, 204 hospitalizations and five deaths. Median number of outbreak-associated illnesses per 100,000 population per year was 45 compared with seven for other outbreaks. These outbreaks accounted for 6 percent of outbreak-associated foodborne illnesses. Thirty-seven states reported at least one outbreak in a correctional institution. Clostridium perfringens was the most frequently reported single etiology. The most frequently reported contributing factor was food remaining at room temperature.

“Incarcerated persons suffer a disproportionate number of outbreak-associated foodborne illnesses,” concluded the authors,” the authors wrote. “Better food safety oversight and regulation in correctional food services could decrease outbreaks.”

Source: American Public Health Association,

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