Estimates of the burden of foodborne illness in Canada for 30 specified pathogens and unspecified agents, circa 2006

Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2013 Jul;10(7):639-48. doi: 10.1089/fpd.2012.1389. Epub 2013 May 9.


Estimates of foodborne illness are important for setting food safety priorities and making public health policies. The objective of this analysis is to estimate domestically acquired, foodborne illness in Canada, while identifying data gaps and areas for further research. Estimates of illness due to 30 pathogens and unspecified agents were based on data from the 2000-2010 time period from Canadian surveillance systems, relevant international literature, and the Canadian census population for 2006. The modeling approach required accounting for under-reporting and underdiagnosis and to estimate the proportion of illness domestically acquired and through foodborne transmission. To account for uncertainty, Monte Carlo simulations were performed to generate a mean estimate and 90% credible interval. It is estimated that each year there are 1.6 million (1.2-2.0 million) and 2.4 million (1.8-3.0 million) episodes of domestically acquired foodborne illness related to 30 known pathogens and unspecified agents, respectively, for a total estimate of 4.0 million (3.1-5.0 million) episodes of domestically acquired foodborne illness in Canada. Norovirus, Clostridium perfringens, Campylobacter spp., and nontyphoidal Salmonella spp. are the leading pathogens and account for approximately 90% of the pathogen-specific total. Approximately one in eight Canadians experience an episode of domestically acquired foodborne illness each year in Canada. These estimates cannot be compared with prior crude estimates in Canada to assess illness trends as different methodologies were used.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Campylobacter / isolation & purification
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Clostridium perfringens / isolation & purification
  • Disease Outbreaks / statistics & numerical data*
  • Food Contamination
  • Foodborne Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Foodborne Diseases / microbiology
  • Foodborne Diseases / parasitology
  • Humans
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Norovirus / isolation & purification
  • Parasites / isolation & purification*
  • Population Surveillance / methods
  • Salmonella / isolation & purification
  • Viruses / isolation & purification*