New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that E.coli 0157:H7 infections declined 36 percent between 2002 and 2003, the largest drop ever. Since 1996, E.coli infections have declined by 42 percent.

While a variety of foods have been linked to E.coli, meat-industry efforts to reduce E.coli exposure on beef products have clearly contributed to this encouraging downward trend, says James Hodges, president of the American Meat Industry Foundation.