Incidents of many foodborne illness have declined since statistical collection began in 1996, with rates for some of the most common pathogens falling by up to 32 per cent. However, Listeria infection rates have started to climb again, according to preliminary data published by the federally-funded Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network.

The declines could indicate that efforts by regulatory agencies and by manufacturers are working to combat common foodborne pathogens. Concerns about the safety of the food supply have led to increased regulatory action to cut down the number of illnesses and death caused by pathogens.

Vibrio infections have also increased, indicating that further measures are needed to prevent foodborne illness, the research unit warned.

"These declines in foodborne illness continues to validate the efforts throughout the industry and government to reduce the incidence of foodborne pathogens on meat and poultry products and keep US meat products among the safest in the world," said Patrick Boyle, chief executive and president of the organization.