This week is National Public Health Week (NPHW). During the first full week of April every year, National Public Health Week recognizes the contributions of public health and highlights issues that are important to improving our nation. The theme for National Public Health Week (NPHW) 2014 — Public Health: Start Here – will draw the nation’s attention to topics including school nutrition, disaster preparedness, prevention, food safety and community health.
The United States government shutdown has slowed or halted federal efforts to protect Americans’ health and safety. Now in its 9th day, the shutdown has impacted food safety efforts, flu programs and disease-tracking, scientific research, and the economic and social well-being of families, children, individuals and communities.
The United States has one of the safest food supplies in the world. Nevertheless, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), foodborne disease causes approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths in the U.S. each year  — and that’s just an estimate based on data collected from the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet), other surveillance networks and published studies.
Approximately one in four Americans get sick by foodborne illness each year . Of those 76 million people, an estimated 325,000 are hopitalized and 5,000 die. Indeed, foodborne disease outbreaks reported to the CDC alone through the Foodborne Disease Outbreak Survelliance System recorded 1,247 outbreaks in 2006 .
The vast majority of known foodborne illnesses are associated with products regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to Jeff Levi, Ph.D., Executive Director of Trust for America’s Health, a non-profit, non-partisan organization working to make disease prevention a national priority :
Our food safety system is plagued with problems, and it’s leading to millions of Americans becoming needlessly sick each year. The system is outdated and unable to effectively deal with today’s threats. Its current structure actually prevents the kind of coordinated, focused effort that Americans need more than ever and have a right to expect.