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FoodCORE Center: Tennessee

map of state of Tennessee

Program Overview

The Tennessee Department of Health established the Tennessee-FoodCORE program to improve response to foodborne outbreaks. Tennessee-FoodCORE collaborates with several food safety programs and ensures food safety is a coordinated initiative. Tennessee has a centralized public health infrastructure with 7 regional and 6 metropolitan health offices, representing 95 counties.

Photo of John R. Dunn, DVM, PhD

“The Tennessee-FoodCORE team has increased capacity statewide to conduct routine public health activities and respond to foodborne outbreaks. FoodCORE has become an important part of Tennessee’s public health system.”

John R. Dunn, Deputy State Epidemiologist

At A Glance

Year joined FoodCORE: 2011
Population: 6.5 M
Structure: Centralized
Number of local and tribal health departments: 95


  • Increased capacity for centralized interviewing
  • Created a student interview team: FoodCORE Interview Team (FIT)


  • Provided stool kits to local health offices, ensuring timely specimen collection
  • Partnered with the state laboratory to provide stool collection training

Environmental Health

  • Provided National Voluntary Environmental Assessment Information System training to all field staff
  • Evaluated Tennessee’s Foodborne Outbreak Complaint Surveillance System

Program Highlight

In Tennessee, foodborne illnesses are the leading cause of outbreaks. The Tennessee Department of Health conducts foodborne disease surveillance and outbreak investigations in partnership with 13 regional and local health departments. Tennessee-FoodCORE improves surveillance and outbreak investigation activities. These activities are key to reducing the number of foodborne illnesses in the state.

Percentage of People With Salmonella Infections Interviewed by Year, Tennessee, 2009 – 2012

The FoodCORE Interview Team (FIT) interviews all sick people with Salmonella and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infections who are reported to 10 of 13 regional and local health departments. Since 2011, FIT has interviewed over 1,000 Salmonella and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli cases and has assisted in over 20 outbreak investigations. The FIT team provides critical information needed to help solve outbreaks in Tennessee.