List of foodborne illness outbreaks by death toll

List of foodborne illness outbreaks by death toll

List of foodborne illness outbreaks caused by an infectious disease.

Year Event Agent Vector Company Infected Deaths Notes
1985 1985 California listeriosis outbreak in cheese Listeria queso fresco Jalisco Cheese >86 [1] 47 or 52 [2] Deadliest bacterial foodborne outbreak in US.[3][2] Deadliest Listeria outbreak.
2011 2011 Germany E. coli O104:H4 outbreak E. coli O104:H4 bean sprouts [4] >3,000 [4] 50 [5] Deadliest bacterial foodborne outbreak in EU. Deadliest E. Coli outbreak.
2011 2011 United States listeriosis outbreak in cantaloupes Listeria cantaloupe [2] Jensen Farms 139 29 [6] Second deadliest bacterial foodborne outbreak in US. Second deadliest Listeria outbreak.
2008 2008 Canadian listeriosis outbreak in cold cuts Listeria cold cuts Maple Leaf Foods [7] >50 22 [8] Deadliest foodborne outbreak in Canada.
1998 1998 United States listeriosis outbreak in cold cuts Listeria cold cuts and hot dogs Bil Mar Foods >100 18 or 21 [2][9]
1985 1985 United States salmonellosis outbreak in milk Salmonella milk Hillfarm Dairy 5,295 [10] 9 [10] Largest foodborne salmonella outbreak in milk.
2008 2008 United States salmonellosis outbreak in peanuts Salmonella peanuts Peanut Corporation of America >200 9 Largest foodborne salmonella outbreak in peanut butter. One of the largest food recalls in United States history. [11]
2002 2002 United States listeriosis outbreak in poultry Listeria poultry Pilgrim's Pride >50 [12] 8 [12]
1995 1995 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak at Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 undercooked hamburgers Jack in the Box >700 [12] 4 [12] First deadly foodborne E. coli O157:H7 outbreak.
2003 2003 United States hepatitis A outbreak Hepatitis A green onions 555 [13] 3 [13] Largest foodborne hepatitis outbreak.
2006 2006 North American E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in spinach E. coli O157:H7 spinach Dole Foods [12] 3 [12] 3 [14]
1963 1963 botulism case from canned tuna Botulism canned tuna A&P 2 [15]
1971 1971 botulism case from Bon Vivant soup Botulism vichyssoise soup Bon Vivant Company 2 [16] 1 [16]
1996 1996 E. coli case from Odwalla juice E. coli O157:H7 unpasteurized apple juice Odwalla 66 [17] 1 [18] Unpasteurized juice sold for the health market. Rotten apples used when safety officer was overruled.[18]
2005 2005 South Wales E. coli O157 outbreak E. coli O157 meat local butcher 157 [19] 1[19] Largest E. coli outbreak in Wales.[19] Second largest E. Coli outbreak in UK.[19]

Deadliest foodborne illness incidents by chemical contamination:

Year Event Food Contaminant Location Affected Deaths Notes
1971 1971 Iraq poison grain disaster beans methyl mercury Iraq >650 650 Seeds treated with methyl mercury as a fungicide for planting were used as food
1981 1981 Spain rapeseed oil toxicity rapeseed oil possibly aniline Spain ~25,000 600 Industrial oil sold as food oil.[20]
1858 1858 Bradford sweets poisoning candy arsenic trioxide England ~200 20 Arsenic was accidentally sold as "daft". Daft was a standard adulterant to bulk up the candy
2008 2008 Chinese milk scandal milk melamine and urea China >300,000 6 Milk diluted with water then melamine added to fool the test for protein content

See also

  • List of foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States
  • Deadliest infectious disease outbreaks


  1. ^ "Epidemiologic Notes and Reports Listeriosis Outbreak Associated with Mexican-Style Cheese -- California". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. June 21, 1985. Retrieved 2011-10-08. "Between January 1, and June 14, 1985, 86 cases of Listeria monocytogenes infection were identified in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, California. Fifty-eight of the cases were among mother-infant pairs. Twenty-nine deaths have occurred: eight neonatal deaths, 13 stillbirths, and eight non-neonatal deaths. An increased occurrence of listeriosis was first noted at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center; all cases were in pregnant Hispanics, and all appeared to be community-acquired. A systematic review of laboratory records at hospitals in Los Angeles and Orange County identified additional cases throughout the area." 
  2. ^ a b c d William Neuman (September 27, 2011). "Deaths From Cantaloupe Listeria Rise". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-09-29. "At least 13 people in eight states have died after eating cantaloupe contaminated with listeria, in the deadliest outbreak of food-borne illness in the United States in more than a decade, public health officials said on Tuesday. ... The outbreak appeared to be the third worst in the United States attributed to any form of food-borne illness, in terms of the number of deaths, since the C.D.C. began regularly tracking such outbreaks in the early 1970s. The deadliest outbreak in the United States since then occurred in 1985, when a wave of listeria illness, linked to Mexican-style fresh cheese, swept through California. A federal database says 52 deaths were attributed to the outbreak, but news reports at the time put the number as high as 84. The second deadliest outbreak was in 1998 and 1999, when there were at least 14 deaths and four miscarriages or stillbirths in a listeria outbreak linked to hot dogs and delicatessen meats. Some sources put the death toll in that outbreak as high as 21. ..." 
  3. ^ Segal, Marian (1988). "Invisible villains; tiny microbes are biggest food hazard". FDA Consumer. "Summer 1985: In Southern California, the largest number of food poisoning deaths recorded in recent U.S. history is traced to Mexican-style soft chesse. Of the 142 reported cases, there were 47 deaths, including 19 stillbirths and 10 infant deaths. The killer -- Listeria monocytogenes." 
  4. ^ a b William Neuman (June 10, 2011). "The Poster Plant of Health Food Can Pack Disease Risks". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-10-08. "German authorities said on Friday that they had conclusively identified sprouts as the cause of the E. coli infections that have swept Europe since early May, killing at least 31 people and sickening about 3,000, including more than 700 with a severe kidney complications. ..." 
  5. ^ William Neuman (June 24, 2011). "German E.Coli Sickens 8 in France". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-10-08. "The deadly German E. coli strain that killed at least 45 people has resurfaced ..." 
  6. ^ "Deaths From Listeria in Cantaloupe Rise to 29". Associated Press. November 3, 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-03. "The death toll in an outbreak of listeria in cantaloupe has reached 29 after federal health authorities say an eighth person has died in Colorado. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that 139 persons have been sickened or killed in 28 states. ..." 
  7. ^ "Canada Expands Recall of Cold Cuts and Raises Death Toll". New York Times. August 25, 2008. Retrieved 2011-10-08. "Over the weekend, Maple Leaf expanded its recall, which began with two types of cold cuts, to include 220 products from the factory, which is one of 24 operated by the company. Separately on Monday, Lucerne Foods, which is based in Calgary, announced a recall of prepared sandwiches it made using Maple Leaf meats for supermarkets and convenience stores in Western Canada." 
  8. ^ "Listeria monocytogenes outbreak". Canadian Food Inspection Agency. 2009-03-12. Retrieved 2009-03-20. "The Public Health Agency of Canada has updated its case numbers from last year’s national listeriosis outbreak. ..." 
  9. ^ "Listeria Fear Forces Recall of Hot Dogs". New York Times. March 26, 2000. Retrieved 2011-09-30. "... The move comes as the company tries to polish a wholesome image tarnished by the nationwide recall in December 1998 of about 15 million pounds of hot dogs and luncheon meat after listeria was spotted. The meat was linked 21 deaths and more than 100 illnesses in 22 states." 
  10. ^ a b "Salmonella Outbreak is Traced". United Press International in the New York Times. April 17, 1985. Retrieved 2011-09-29. "About 6,644 cases of samonella poisoning have been reported and 5,295 have been confirmed in five states, most of them in Illinois, according to Jeremy Margolis, the acting Illinois public health director. At least nine deaths have been linked to the outbreak. The other states affected by the outbreak are Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin." 
  11. ^ "Peanut Company Sent Products Before Test Results". New York Times. February 11, 2009. Retrieved 2011-11-09. "It has also led to one of the largest food recalls in the nation’s history ..." 
  12. ^ a b c d e f Jennifer O'Shea (May 20, 2007). "Timeline: Deaths and Illnesses Caused by Food Contamination". U.S.News & World Report. Retrieved 2011-10-10. "Prewashed, bagged spinach from Dole was contaminated with E. coli. At least 205 consumers fell ill; three died. Investigators traced the strain back to the field in California and said that in this instance, washing could not have removed the bacteria." 
  13. ^ a b "Hepatitis A Outbreak Associated with Green Onions at a Restaurant – Monaca, Pennsylvania, 2003". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. November 28, 2003. Retrieved 2011-10-08. "The Pennsylvania Department of Health and CDC are investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A outbreak among patrons of a restaurant (Restaurant A) in Monaca, Pennsylvania. As of November 20, approximately 555 persons with hepatitis A have been identified, including at least 13 Restaurant A food service workers and 75 residents of six other states who dined at Restaurant A. Three persons have died. Preliminary sequence analysis of a 340 nucleotide region of viral RNA obtained from three patrons who had hepatitis A indicated that all three virus sequences were identical. Preliminary analysis of a case-control study implicated green onions as the source of the outbreak. ..." 
  14. ^ Libby Sander (October 13, 2006). "Source of Deadly E. Coli Is Found". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-10-10. "Cattle manure collected from a California ranch under investigation by federal and state authorities contains the same strain of E. coli that killed three people and sickened nearly 200 in a recent outbreak linked to tainted spinach, federal and state food safety officials said Thursday. ..." 
  15. ^ "Deaths Spur Tuna Hunt In Detroit Area". Toledo Blade. March 20, 1963.,4239012&dq=death+botulism&hl=en. Retrieved 2011-10-10. "Dr. Robert Solomon, who treated the second victim, said he and a pathologist attributed her death to "botulism" and that "everything points to type the ..." 
  16. ^ a b "An Examination of FDA’s Recall Authority". Harvard Law School. Retrieved 2007-09-25. "The incident did not take a toll only on the company, however. Bon Vivant did not have adequate records and controls of production lots and distribution in order to trace the products quickly. The company also did not have the finances or manpower necessary to run a successful recall program. As a result, the FDA had to seize all the Bon Vivant soup throughout the country, more than a million cans in all. FDA said the seizure occupied 125 man years of FDA time, enough for 2,000 ordinary factory inspections for preventive purposes. After some squabbling in the courts, where the owner of the company sought to recover the seized cans for resale under the company’s new name, “Moore & Co.,” the soup was eventually incinerated, at the cost of nearly $150,000 to the federal government. As for Moore & Co., it appears the resurrection of the company was short-lived." 
  17. ^ "Odwalla Agrees to Pay $1.5M Fine". The Fresno Bee. July 24, 1998. Retrieved 2008-08-08. "Representatives of juice maker Odwalla Inc. agreed in a Fresno courtroom Thursday to pay a record $1.5 million criminal penalty for the 1996 E. coli outbreak that killed a Colorado girl and sickened at least 66 other people. The Half Moon Bay company admitted to 16 misdemeanor charges as part of a plea agreement stemming from the outbreak traced to contaminated apple juice made at the firm's plant in Dinuba." 
  18. ^ a b Christopher Drew and Pam Belluck (January 4, 1988). "Deadly Bacteria a New Threat To Fruit and Produce in U.S.". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-11. "Interviews with former Odwalla managers and company documents show that in the weeks before the outbreak, Odwalla began relaxing its standards on accepting blemished fruit and reining in the authority of its own safety officials, culminating in tense, dramatic moments on the morning of Oct. 7, 1996, the day the contaminated juice was pressed. ..." 
  19. ^ a b c d "E.coli butcher jailed for a year. A butcher has been jailed for a year for food safety offences which led to a fatal E.coli outbreak in 2005". BBC. 7 September 2007. Retrieved 2011-10-07. "Mr Walters said one vacuum-packing machine was "wrongly used" for both raw and cooked meats. "It was not uncommon for juices from raw meat to get into the vacpacker. "There was blood on the trays and workers were having to wipe it off while they were packing cooked meat. "One employee said he was told by Tudor not to use the vacpacker for cooked meat whenever food inspectors were visiting."" 
  20. ^ "A Long Trial in Spain on Fatal Tainted Food". New York Times. August 2, 1987. Retrieved 2011-10-10. "According to official figures, still disputed, more than 600 people have died and some 25,000 have been affected. ..." 

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