"Romaine Lettuce" by the Agriculture Research Service / Public Domain

Romaine to Honey Smacks Cereal: Why Were There So Many Foodborne Outbreaks in 2018?

Dec 26, 2018

By Rachael Rettner

From E. coli-tainted romaine lettuce to Salmonella in cereal, this year certainly had its fair share of foodborne illness outbreaks. Health warnings had consumers discarding bags of lettuce, searching their cupboards for recalled cereal and avoiding premade wraps at grocery stores.

All of this might have left you wondering: Why did we seem to have so many foodborne outbreaks in 2018?

Experts say that, although we heard a lot about foodborne disease in 2018, it doesn’t mean that we had any more outbreaks than usual. Indeed, it’s likely that the U.S. always has about the same number of outbreaks every year, said Benjamin Chapman, an associate professor and food safety specialist at North Carolina State University. But critically, health officials are getting better at detecting these outbreaks, Chapman said, leading to an increase in reported outbreaks in recent years.

“The science is getting better, and the public health resources are getting better, and we’re just getting better at finding things,” Chapman told Live Science.

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