Our Shared Goal of Reducing Foodborne Illness


Authored by Dr. Robert Tauxe, Director of the Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases in the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Every year, foodborne diseases result in an estimated 48 million people getting sick, 128,000 being hospitalized, and 3,000 dying in the United States. Many foods are linked to foodborne illness, and contamination can occur at any point from farm to fork — during production, processing, distribution, or preparation.

CDC’s efforts to prevent foodborne illness range from working with federal agencies, industry, and other partners on effective methods to reduce contamination on farms and in processing facilities, to equipping the public with information needed to protect their health. Educating consumers about how to prevent foodborne illness while preparing foods in their home is an important part of our overall effort to make food safe.

CDC and other federal agencies have worked with the Partnership for Food Safety Education (PFSE) since 1997 to present consistent advice to the public and to food safety educators. Working together, we develop consumer-focused messages about safe food handling that are based in science. As part of this partnership, 25 years ago, we created the core four food safety messages — Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill — that we still promote today. Additionally, CDC has provided input on PFSE food safety materials, shared CDC materials, presented at PFSE conferences, and contributed to PFSE webinars and trainings.

CDC has also identified prevention priorities that address some of the most pressing concerns related to foodborne diseases: 

We look forward to continued collaboration with PFSE and other partners to protect the public’s health.

Together, we share the goal of reducing the risk of foodborne illness for the consumer by working closely with federal partners, consumer groups, and industry to address food safety.

CDC will continue to do this by testing food safety messages and consumer materials, conducting behavioral research related to food safety, and developing communication and educational resources for external partners that reflect CDC’s understanding of foodborne illness.