During the past 15 years, Salmonella infection, which causes more hospitalizations and deaths than any other type of germ found in food and $365 million in direct medical costs annually, has not declined. Yet during the same time, a dangerous type of E. coli STEC O157infection, responsible for the recall of millions of pounds of ground beef, has been cut almost in half, according to a new CDC Vital Sign report released today.

These trends are part of the Vital Signs report that summarizes 2010 data from CDC’s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet), which serves as America’s report card for food safety by tracking whether nine of the most common infections transmitted through foods are increasing or decreasing.

“Although foodborne infections have decreased by nearly one-fourth in the past 15 years, more than 1 million people in this country become ill from Salmonella each year, and Salmonella accounts for about half of the hospitalizations and deaths among the nine foodborne illnesses CDC tracks through FoodNet,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Salmonella costs hundreds of millions of dollars in direct medical costs each year. Continued investments are essential to detect, investigate, and stop outbreaks promptly in order to protect our food supply.”

Salmonella can be challenging to address because so many different foods like meats, eggs, produce, and even processed foods, can become contaminated with it and finding the source can be challenging because it can be introduced in many different ways.

In response to that challenge, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates eggs, produce and many processed foods, has developed new rules for the egg industry to follow under its recently expanded regulatory authorities.

“Last summer, FDA began implementing new shell egg safety requirements that should significantly reduce illnesses caused by Salmonella enteritidis in eggs,” said FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael R. Taylor. “The recently enacted Food Safety Modernization Act wisely mandates a comprehensive approach to preventing illnesses from many types of Salmonella and a wide range of other contaminants that can make people sick. The current outbreak of E. coli in Europe demonstrates the importance of the new law, and FDA is committed to implementing the new law as fully as possible within available resources.”