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CDC Food Safety Announcements

This page contains all CDC Food Safety announcements, organized by date. The most recent announcements are at the top. To sign up to receive email updates on Food Safety topics, enter your email address in the "Get email updates" box on the right side of this page.


November 2015: CDC Report: Stopping Multistate Foodborne Outbreaks

Stopping Multistate Foodborne Outbreaks

CDC Report: Working Together to Stop Outbreaks and Make Food Safer

Multistate outbreaks cause more than half of all deaths in foodborne disease outbreaks despite accounting for only a tiny fraction (3 percent) of reported outbreaks in the United States, according to a new Vital Signs report released today. Recent outbreaks of foodborne illness linked to tainted cucumbers, ice cream and soft cheeses show the devastating consequences when food is contaminated with dangerous germs before it reaches a restaurant or home kitchen.

Report Highlights

Graphics: Government and food industries need to work together to make food safer.

Highlights from the report on multistate foodborne outbreaks during 2010-2014 include:
  • An average of 24 multistate outbreaks occurred each year, involving two to 37 states.
  • Salmonella accounted for the most illnesses and hospitalizations and was the cause of the three largest outbreaks, which were traced to eggs, chicken and raw ground tuna.
  • Listeria caused the most deaths, largely due to an outbreak caused by contaminated cantaloupe in 2011 that killed 33 people.
  • Imported foods accounted for 18 of the 120 reported outbreaks. Food imported from Mexico was the leading source in these outbreaks, followed by food imported from Turkey.
Save the Date Vital Signs Town Hall Teleconference

Working Together to Stop Multistate Foodborne Outbreaks -- November 10, 2015, 2-3 PM EST

Join our three presenters as they share experiences from outbreak investigations and how food safety has been improved when government and food industries work together. Call-in number, presentations, and biographies will be posted at: before the event.


  • Ian Williams, Ph.D., M.S., Chief, Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch, CDC
  • Tim Jones, M.D., State Epidemiologist, Tennessee Department of Health
  • Michael P. Doyle, Ph.D., Director, Center for Food Safety, University of Georgia
Food Industries and the Government Can Work Together to Stop Outbreaks and Make Food Safer

Infographic: Outbreak Investigations Help Everyone Make Food Safer.

The Vital Signs report recommends that local, state, and national health agencies work closely with food industries to understand how their foods are produced and distributed to speed multistate outbreak investigations. These investigations can reveal fixable problems that resulted in food becoming contaminated and lessons learned that can help strengthen food safety.

The report highlights the need for food industries to play a larger role in improving food safety by following best practices for growing, processing, and shipping foods. In addition, food industries can help stop outbreaks and lessen their impact by keeping detailed records to allow faster tracing of foods from source to destination, by using store loyalty cards to help identify what foods made people sick, and by notifying customers of food recalls.

About Vital Signs

CDC’s Vital Signs report addresses a single, important public health topic each month. The November edition focuses on multistate outbreaks of foodborne disease. These outbreaks frequently cause serious illness in people. In collaboration with our federal and state public health partners, we are finding more of these outbreaks because of improvements in disease surveillance and testing. To stop outbreaks and make food safer, food industries and government must work together to prevent them.

Visit the Safer Food Saves Lives Vital Signs Web page to find the research article from the Morbidity and Mortality Report (MMWR), fact sheet, and other materials.

October 2015: Outbreak Searches: Easier, More Complete

Outbreak Searches: Easier, More Complete

Graphic: Foodborne Outbreak Online Database Food Tool.

Tool Includes New Maps, Interactive Features, and Food Searches

CDC is making it easier to search data on foodborne disease outbreaks. A redesigned online tool lets you search nearly 20 years of outbreak data by state, food, or germ.

The Foodborne Outbreak Online Database Tool (FOOD Tool) now includes:

  • Interactive features, such as maps, graphs, and tables;
  • Search capability by specific foods and ingredients;
  • “Quick stats” display;
  • Case counts for multistate outbreaks; and
  • Reported national foodborne outbreak data from 1998 to 2014.
Finding Food Sources and Germs That Cause Outbreaks

An estimated 1 in 6 Americans get sick from foodborne illness every year. Tracking and reporting outbreak information is critical to understanding how foodborne illness impacts the public's health.

The tool lets you search foodborne disease data by year, state, location of food preparation, food and ingredient, and cause. It provides information on numbers of illnesses, hospitalizations, deaths, the germ, and whether the cause was confirmed or suspected.

“During an outbreak, public health investigators can use the database to help point them towards possible food sources by searching foods implicated in past outbreaks,” said Barbara Mahon, MD, MPH, deputy branch chief of CDC’s Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch. “And they can find information on which germs caused outbreaks.”

The database contains all foodborne disease outbreaks reported to CDC. However, not all outbreaks are reported. An FAQ provides guidance on using the data and limitations to keep in mind when searching by food or ingredient.

Surveillance System Captures and Analyzes Reported Outbreak Data

FOOD Tool’s data come from CDC’s Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System, which captures information on foodborne outbreaks caused by enteric bacterial, viral, parasitic, and chemical agents reported by state, local, and territorial public health agencies.

CDC analyzes these data to understand the impact of foodborne outbreaks and the causes, foods, settings, and contributing factors (for example, food kept at room temperature for too long).

Access the updated FOOD Tool at

October 2015: FoodNet: Two Decades of Achievement

FoodNet: Two Decades of Achievement

Graphic: 20 years of FoodNet. 1996-2015

The Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, or FoodNet, has been tracking trends in foodborne infections since 1996.

FoodNet has matured and transformed over the last 20 years, and continues to evolve as clinical, laboratory, and informatics technologies change.

~Olga Henoa, Ph.D.
FoodNet Team Lead

FoodNet provides a foundation for food safety policy and prevention efforts by estimating the number of foodborne illnesses, monitoring trends of specific foodborne illnesses, conducting studies to understand the causes of these illnesses, and informing the public about its findings.

Active, Population-Based Surveillance

Foodborne Illness and Culture-Independent Diagnostic Tests

In 2009, FoodNet began to collect information on E.coli and Campylobacter cases identified by methods that don't depend on growing the bacteria, and expanded the collection of information to other pathogens in 2011.

FoodNet has conducted surveillance for laboratory-confirmed cases of infection in humans  caused by Campylobacter, Listeria, Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O157,  Shigella, Vibrio, and Yersinia since 1996, Cryptosporidium and Cyclospora since 1997, and STEC non-O157 since 2000. FoodNet staff in state health departments contact clinical laboratories in the surveillance area to get reports of infections diagnosed in residents.

Special Studies

Although foodborne outbreaks are common, most foodborne infections are sporadic, meaning they are not related to an outbreak. We can only rarely determine how one person got an infection but, by studying a large number of people with the same type of infection, we can often determine risk factors for getting ill.

Major Contributions

FoodNet is the only U.S. system focused on obtaining comprehensive information about sporadic infections caused by pathogens transmitted commonly through food. The network’s contributions to food safety policy and illness prevention include:

  • Establishing reliable, active population-based surveillance to understand who gets sick and why;
  • Developing and implementing studies that determine risk and protective factors for foodborne infections;
  • Conducting population surveys and laboratory surveys that describe the features of gastrointestinal illnesses, medical care-seeking behavior, foods eaten, and laboratory practices; and
  • Improving our ability at the federal and state level to track and study foodborne illnesses and respond to new issues as they arise.
About FoodNet

Learn More

October 2015: Programs Supporting Health Departments

Programs Support Health Departments

It's been an exciting time for state and local health departments that work with foodborne outbreaks. CDC expanded the Integrated Food Safety Centers of Excellence and introduced OutbreakNet Enhanced. Our partner, the Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response (CIFOR), announced a webinar to familiarize public health professionals with the CIFOR Guidelines and the Toolkit. These three programs provide multiple resources and tools for outbreak detection and response.

U.S. map with states of Oregon, Colorado, Minnesota, Tennessee, Florida, and New York highlighted.

Integrated Food Safety Centers of Excellence

The Integrated Food Safety Centers of Excellence offer resources and training to other state and local health departments for tracking and investigating foodborne disease.
In August, the Integrated Food Safety Centers of Excellence expanded to include a Northeast Regional Center of Excellence in New York. This newest Center is a collaboration between the New York State Department of Health and Cornell University.
Check out the website, Centered on Food Safety newsletter, and Twitter account for more information about all of the Centers.
Visit to see all tools and videos developed by the Centers.

OutbreakNet Enhanced

OutbreakNet Enhanced, launched in August 2015, provides support and resources to state health departments for detecting, investigating, controlling, and reporting foodborne outbreaks.
OutbreakNet Enhanced includes 11 state health departments selected by a competitive grant application process.
OubreakNet Enhanced Sites US MapThe program provides the following support:  

  • Funds additional epidemiologist positions and student teams to increase interviewing capacity during foodborne outbreaks
  • Sponsors travel to relevant trainings and conferences to enhance surveillance and improve interviewing and data sharing
  • Will track progress and identify areas for improvement using performance metrics

The OutbreakNet Enhanced competitive application and funding is part of the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases Cooperative Agreement.
Visit the Capacity and Implementation Team site to get more information as the program develops.

Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response (CIFOR)

Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak ResponseCIFOR announces a webinar for public health professionals at the state and local level who are directly involved in foodborne disease surveillance and outbreak detection, investigation, and control. 

CIFOR Guidelines and Toolkit Implementation Webinar for Public Health Professionals

When: Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at 2 pm EST

How: Registration required.  

Who: The target audience includes epidemiologists, environmental health specialists and sanitarians, laboratorians, public health nurses, and public health educators. 

What: This webinar will familiarize public health professionals with the CIFOR Guidelines, the CIFOR Toolkit process and materials, and experiences of other health departments in using these resources. (Visit the CIFOR website after the webinar to see the recorded version.)

More: For more information, contact

September 2015: Five Resources to Improve Food Safety

Five Resources to Improve Food Safety

September is National Food Safety Education Month. Share these five resources to improve food safety at home, in restaurants, and in the community year-round.

Redesigned Food Safety Site

Get the facts on food safety, foodborne germs and illnesses, and foodborne disease outbreaks at CDC's redesigned food safety website. Sections for consumers, healthcare providers, health departments, and industry provide quick access to tailored resources.

Food Safety Tools in the Kitchen

Graphic: Gear up for Food Safety. CDC's food safety tips.A new CDC feature for consumers focuses on using food safety tools properly to help prevent food poisoning. Download a copy of the new infographic, Gear Up for Food Safety! [PDF - 1 page], and take the feature’s quiz to test your food safety savvy!

(The content of this feature is available for syndication. Get the code to embed on your site. Get more information about syndication. Ask for help with syndication.)

Improving Community Food Safety

Learn how the six state health departments and their academic partners that comprise the Integrated Food Safety Centers of Excellence are providing in-person and online resources, training, and assistance in tracking foodborne illness and investigating outbreaks. This assistance is designed to strengthen foodborne illness surveillance and improve food safety in your community.

Resources for Environmental Health Practitioners

Explore CDC tools and guidance, training, and research for environmental health practitioners.
Practice skills in an interactive virtual environment and learn to conduct environmental assessments as part of outbreak investigations. Watch our video to learn more about the training. (Photo: Virtual training exercise of simulated interview with food worker.)

Home Food Safety Myths and Facts

Home Food Safety Myth Busters logoThe Partnership for Food Safety Education has created materials for consumers and educators on why it’s important to keep refrigerators cold and clean. Their mythbusters fact sheets debunk some common myths on handling food safely.   

August 2015: New CDC Tool Shows Changes in Antibiotic Resistance

Tool Shows Changes in Antibiotic Resistance

NARMSNOW web site diplayed on personal computer, tablet, and cell phones.

A new interactive tool from CDC makes it easier and quicker to see how antibiotic resistance for four germs spread commonly through food—Campylobacter, E. coli O157, Salmonella, and Shigella—has changed over the past 18 years.

Each year in the United States, antibiotic-resistant germs cause 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths. Antibiotic-resistant infections from germs spread commonly through food cause an estimated 440,000 of those illnesses.

NARMS Now: Human Data
  • National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring Systems (NARMS)
  • Interagency parnerships between CDC, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and state and local health departments
  • Tracks antibiotic resistance in foodborne and other enteric (intestinal) germs from humans (CDC), retail meats (FDA), and food animals (USDA)

The NARMS Now: Human Data tool contains information from the Nationa Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS).

NARMS Now: Human Data allows users to access antibiotic resistance data by bacterial serotype, antibiotic, year (1996-2013), and geographic region. Users can view data on an interactive map or in tables. NARMS Now: Human Data plans to provide access to the most up-to-date antibiotic resistance results by uploading data regularly.

Using the Data

NARMS Now: Human Data can be used to:

Inform regulatory agency action

  • FDA withdrew approval for Enrofloxacin (a fluoroquinolone) used in poultry after the data showed an increase in fluoroquinolone-resistant Campylobacter infections in humans.

Examine the geographic distribution of resistance.

  • Researchers have used the data to investigate the geographic distribution of multidrug-resistant Salmonella Typhimurium and Newport infections in the United States.

"Losing effective antibiotics is one of our most serious health threats. The NARMS Now: Human Data tool illustrates what happening germ-by-germ with infections that can be foodborne."

Rob Tauxe, M.D., M.P.H.
Deputy Director,
CDC's Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases

Monitor changing trends in resistance.

  • Investigators are using NARMS data to help uncover the reason for increasing antibiotic resistance in a type of Salmonella, I 4,[5],12,:i:-, which has emerged recently in the United States.
Timely Access to Data

CDC developed NARMS Now: Human Data in response to requests from Congress, consumer groups, academia, and the public for timely access to data on antibiotic resistance. The tool is an important step towards President Obama’s Open Government Initiative to foster openness in government and establish a culture of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.

The FDA, on behalf of all the NARMS partner agencies, is also making data available online, NARMS Now: Integrated Data. That data helps users to access antibiotic resistance information from isolates from retail meat and animals, and will soon add Campylobacter and non-typhoidal Salmonella from humans.

The FY 2016 President’s Budget requests additional funding for CDC to improve early detection and tracking of drug-resistant Salmonella and other urgent antibiotic resistance threats. The proposed initiative would allow CDC to check nearly every Salmonella sample and many more Campylobacter samples for resistance more quickly.

Learn More about NARMS and NARMS Now

July 2015: Food Safety Publications for Summer Reading

Suggestions for Summer Reading

Looking for something to add to your summer reading list? Check out these four recent publications from CDC’s food safety scientists.

2013 multistate outbreaks of Cyclospora cayetanensis infections associated with fresh produce: focus on the Texas investigations.
  • The 2013 multistate outbreaks contributed to the largest annual number of reported U.S. cases of cyclosporiasis since 1997. In this paper, the authors focus on investigations in Texas. Read more.

Identification and characterization of multidrug-resistant Salmonella enterica serotype Albert isolates in the United States.

  • Turkeys are a likely source of the multidrug-resistant Salmonella enterica serotype Albert. Circulation of resistance plasmids, as opposed to the expansion of a single resistant strain, is playing a role. More work is needed to understand why these resistance plasmids spread and how they contribute to human disease. Read more.
Pulse Field Gel Electrophoresis cover
Pulse Field Gel Electrophoresis: Methods and Protocols (Methods in Molecular Biology) 2015 Edition
  • This book guides readers through standardized PFGE methods and protocols that promote collaboration between laboratories for disease monitoring and control. Read more.

Multistate outbreak of listeriosis caused by imported cheese and evidence of cross-contamination of other cheeses, USA, 2012.

  • In 2012, an outbreak of Listeria infections linked with contaminated cheese sickened 22 people, causing four deaths and a fetal loss. Careful epidemiological and laboratory investigation identified imported ricotta salata as the sources of contamination for at least six patients and cross-contamination of other cheeses that sickened additional patients. Read more.
Tap water runnning into glass with ice.

Quick Links

As a bonus, here are three links to publications on waterborne diseases to add to your summer reading list:

June 2015: CDC Foundation Releases Business Pulse: Food Safety

Business Pulse Focuses on Food Safety

Graphic: Business Pulse. Food Safety

Business Pulse: Food Safety, published today by the CDC Foundation, focuses on how CDC fights foodborne diseases to protect American consumers and businesses from contaminated foods. The quarterly business feature also includes resources and practical tools to help employers improve food safety in the workplace and create a culture of food safety.

Food that is unsafe and makes people sick has a ripple effect on businesses, communities and the U.S. economy. Promoting a culture of food safety is important for all businesses. 

Did You Know?
Graphic: Business Pulse. Food Safety
  • A person suffering from a foodborne, diarrheal illness misses an average of three days of work or school. 
  • Foodborne illness is estimated to cost America more than $15.5 billion annually, according to a 2015 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In This Issue 
  • Information and helpful links on the food safety challenges faced by all businesses.
  • Robert Tauxe, M.D., M.P.H., deputy director of CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases, answers five questions about food safety best practices for employers.
  • An interactive infographic that provides useful facts and links to online CDC tools, guidelines and resources.
Learn More

Produced by the CDC Foundation, Business Pulse focuses on a different topic each quarter. Explore benefits associated with CDC’s work to protect Americans—including businesses and their workforces—from chronic threats that impact health and productivity to major health emergencies.

June 2015: 2013 NARMS Human Isolates Report

Antibiotic Resistance in Foodborne Germs is an Ongoing Threat

NARMS 2012 Annual Report

The news about trends in antibiotic resistance in foodborne germs is mixed. According to human illness data posted online today by CDC, the ongoing public health threat of antibiotic resistance in foodborne germs continued to show both positive and challenging trends in 2013. The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) tracks changes in the antibiotic resistance of six types of common foodborne germs found in sick people, retail meats, and food animals.

The good news from the 2013 NARMS Annual Human Isolates Report is that multidrug resistance (resistance to three or more classes of antibiotics) in Salmonella has not increased, remaining at 10% of infections. However, resistance in some types of Salmonella is increasing. For example, multidrug resistance in a common Salmonella serotype called I4,[5],12:i:- was 46%, more than double the rate from two years before. Campylobacter, another germ that is transmitted by food, showed one in four samples from sick people are still resistant to quinolones like ciprofloxacin.

Graphic: Antibiotic Resistance: From the Farm to the Table. Resistance: All animals carry bacteria in their intestines. Antibiotics are given to animals. Antibiotics kill most bacteria. But resistant bacteria survive and multiply. Spread: Resistant bacteria can spread to animal products, produce through contaminated water or soil, prepared food through contaminated surfaces, and the environment when animals poop. Exposure: People can get sick with resistant infections from contaminated food and contaminated environment. Impact: Some infections cause mild illness, severe illness, and may lead to death.

Most Salmonella and Campylobacter infections cause diarrheal illness that resolves within a week without antibiotics. However, these germs can also cause infection of the bloodstream and other sites. When germs are resistant, antibiotics may be ineffective, increasing the chance of a severe illness.

NARMS is a collaboration among state and local public health departments, CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). NARMS helps protect public health by providing information about bacterial resistance, the ways in which resistance is spread, and how resistant infections differ from susceptible infections. Understanding frequency and trends in antibiotic resistance helps doctors to prescribe effective treatment and public health officials to investigate outbreaks faster.

The FY 2016 President’s Budget requests additional funding for CDC to improve early detection and tracking of drug-resistant Salmonella and other urgent antibiotic resistance threats.  The proposed initiative would allow CDC to check nearly every Salmonella sample and many more Campylobacter samples for resistance more quickly.

In 2013, NARMS tested more than 5,000 germs from ill people for antibiotic resistance.~ 2013 NARMS Annual Human Isolates Report

Most Salmonella and Campylobacter infections cause diarrheal illness that resolves within a week without antibiotics. However, these germs can also cause infection of the bloodstream and other sites. When germs are resistant, antibiotics may be ineffective, increasing the chance of a severe illness.

NARMS is a collaboration among state and local public health departments, CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). NARMS helps protect public health by providing information about bacterial resistance, the ways in which resistance is spread, and how resistant infections differ from susceptible infections. Understanding frequency and trends in antibiotic resistance helps doctors to prescribe effective treatment and public health officials to investigate outbreaks faster.

The FY 2016 President’s Budget requests additional funding for CDC to improve early detection and tracking of drug-resistant Salmonella and other urgent antibiotic resistance threats.  The proposed initiative would allow CDC to check nearly every Salmonella sample and many more Campylobacter samples for resistance more quickly.

Learn More

May 2015: Annual Food Safety Reports from CDC

The State of Food Safety in the U.S.

Two recent CDC reports examine the state of food safety in the United States. One measures foodborne illnesses and the other summarizes foodborne outbreaks. Overall, the results from both reports show that progress has been made but more work is needed.

Annual Food Safety Progress Report

The annual food safety progress report measures foodborne illnesses from nine key germs and is produced from 2014 data compiled by the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet). This year's report showed some progress in reducing infections from E. coli O157 and one type of Salmonella; however, there is still work to be done. Illness from six other infections monitored by FoodNet showed little or no recent improvements.

In 2014, FoodNet identified more than 19,500 infections, 4,445 hospitalizations, and 71 deaths among residents of 10 states that include 15% of the U.S. population. See the full report and accompanying materials.

Food Safety 2014 Progress Report.

Summaries of Foodborne Disease Outbreaks

The National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS) released their annual summary of foodborne outbreaks. The 2013 data is compiled from the results of foodborne disease outbreak investigations reported to CDC by state and local health departments. 

In 2013, 818 foodborne disease outbreaks were reported, resulting in 13,360 illnesses, 1,062 hospitalizations, 16 deaths, and 14 food recalls.

See the full report.

Food Safety 2014 Progress Report.

Food Outbreaks: The Wanted List

Reflecting on recent outbreaks on foodborne illness can yield important lessons for preventing future outbreaks. A new Medscape slideshow features recent outbreaks of human illnesses traced to food sources that were previously unrecognized as causes of infections (such as raw cashew cheese) or repeat offenders (such as poultry). View slideshow.

Next Steps

Reducing all types of foodborne infections and outbreaks will require a variety of approaches and collaboration between public health, regulatory agencies, industry, and the public. New regulations and continuing industry efforts are focusing on problem areas. Everyone who eats can be part of the solution.

More Information

April 2015: Could a Norovirus Vaccine be a Reality?

Lady sitting on edge of bed holding stomach.

Could a Norovirus Vaccine be a Reality?

Have you ever experienced severe diarrhea or vomiting? If you have, it's likely you had norovirus. If you haven't, chances are you will.

Anyone can get norovirus and you can get it more than once. It is estimated that a person will get norovirus about five times during their lifetime.

Norovirus affects about one in 15 people and contributes to 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations and 570 to 800 deaths in the U.S.

Norovirus spreads easily from contaminated food or surfaces or from an infected person.  People with norovirus illness are contagious from the moment they begin feeling sick and for the first few days after they recover. Some people may be contagious for even longer.

Currently, there is not a vaccine to prevent norovirus infection or a drug to treat sick people. But, there is hope for a vaccine.

Coming together to find answers and move towards a vaccine

Transmission electron micrograph (TEM) revealed some of the ultrastructural morphology displayed by Norovirus virions, or virus particles

In February 2015, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, CDC foundation, and CDC brought together norovirus experts from around the world to discuss how to make the norovirus vaccine a reality. Participants came from 17 countries on six continents and included representatives from academia, industry, government, and private charitable foundations.

Important questions remain about norovirus:

  • How do humans develop immunity?
  • How long does immunity last?
  • Does immunity to one strain protect against infection from others?
  • How would a vaccine be used to prevent disease and protect those at highest risk? 

The meeting was a step toward finding answers to these questions and making a norovirus vaccine a reality. (Photo: Microscopic view of norovirus particles)

Most norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food occur in food service settings like restaurants. Just a very small amount of norovirus on your food or your hands can make you sick. The amount of virus particles that fit on the head of a pin would be enough to infect more than 1,000 people.

Facts about norovirus

Norovirus is the leading cause of disease outbreaks from contaminated food in the US.
  • Leading cause of diarrhea and vomiting in the United States. Each year, norovirus causes 19 to 21 million illnesses (about one in 15 people) and contributes to 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations and 570 to 800 deaths in the U.S. 
  • Global disease. Norovirus is also a major cause of diarrheal disease worldwide accounting for nearly 20% of all diarrheal cases. In developing countries, it is associated with approximately 50,000 to 100,000 child deaths every year.
  • Many names, same symptoms. Norovirus is the most common cause of diarrhea and vomiting (also known as gastroenteritis) and is often referred to as food poisoning or stomach flu. Norovirus is not related to the flu (influenza). Though they may share some of the same symptoms, the flu is a respiratory illness caused by influenza virus.
  • Serious for some, but not most. For most people, norovirus illness is not serious and they get better in one to three days. But it can be serious in young children, the elderly, and people with other health conditions and can lead to severe dehydration, hospitalization, and even death.  
  • Spreads quickly. Norovirus spreads quickly from person to person in enclosed places like nursing homes, daycare centers, schools, and cruise ships. It is also a major cause of outbreaks in restaurants and catered-meal settings if contaminated food is served.

Tips to protect against norovirus

Graphic: Protect yourself from norovirus. Wash your hands often. Cook shellfish to 140 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. When you are sick, don't prepare food or care for others. Rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly. After comiting or having diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect surfaces and wash soiled laundry.

While there is hope for a norovirus vaccine in the future, there are steps you can take now to protect yourself.

  • Practice proper hand hygiene. Wash your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers and always before eating or preparing food. If soap and water aren't available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. These  products can help reduce the number of germs on your hands, but they are not a substitute for washing with soap and water.
  • Take care in the kitchen. Carefully rinse fruits and vegetables and cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating.
  • Do not prepare food while infected. People with norovirus illness should not prepare food for others while they have symptoms and for at least two days after they have recovered from their illness.
  • Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces. After throwing up or having diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces using a bleach-based household cleaner, as directed on the product label. If no such cleaning product is available, use a solution made with five tablespoons to 1.5 cups of household bleach per one gallon of water.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly. Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool. Handle soiled items carefully—try not to shake them—to avoid spreading virus. If available, wear rubber or disposable gloves while handling soiled clothing or linens and wash your hands after handling. Wash soiled items with detergent at the maximum available cycle length and then machine dry. 

April 2015: CDC Website Highlights Prevention Activities

Website Highlights Prevention

CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID) announces the launch of their redesigned website that highlights recent work to prevent the spread of infectious the United States and around the world. We invite you to subscribe to their newsletter (see an excerpt below) to get a monthly "sneak peak" of prevention activities at CDC.

Ebola Update
Little girl holding an ebola poster.

In Liberia, a new patient tested positive for Ebola not long after the country had started its countdown to being free of transmission. Teams are actively engaged in tracing and following contacts. New cases continue to be reported in Guinea and Sierra Leone, but considerable progress is being made in both countries. We will not stop until we get to zero cases. CDC is working with public health officials in Sierra Leone to launch a candidate Ebola vaccine trial.

Learn More

Updated Tuberculosis (TB) Screening Guidelines Identify More Cases Overseas
Tuberculosis Microbes

A CDC study shows that because of new screening guidelines, physicians overseas identified more than 600 additional cases of TB in 2012 among immigrants and refugees bound for the United States in 2012. The study also showed that the updated screening guidelines led to a roughly one-third decrease in the number of TB cases among foreign born within their first year in the United States.

Learn More

Sign Up for Monthly Updates

Each month, CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID) is sending highlights of its most recent work to prevent infectious disease. Also included: new infographic of the month, new stories and features, and new publications. Sign up to receive the once-a-month updates.

Sign up

March 2015: Centered on Food Safety Excellence

Integrated Food Safety Centers of Excellence

The Integrated Food Safety Centers of Excellence serve as resources and provide technical assistance and training for local, state, and federal public health professionals who respond to foodborne illness and outbreaks. CDC's Food Safety Office coordinates the Centers.

image of us map with the coe states sites

Current Centers

In 2012, CDC named five state health departments and their partner academic institutions as Centers of Excellence under the authority of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). 

Projects, Tools, and Training

Example Products from Centers of ExcellenceThe Centers have products, tools, and trainings available for state and local health departments, including:

  • Training Needs Assessments
  • CIFOR Toolkit Training
  • CIFOR Metrics Evaluation
  • In-Person Collaborative Team Training (e.g. Epi Ready)
  • Surveillance/Outbreak Evaluations and Consultations
  • Student Team Guidance and Training
  • Interviewer Training
  • IT System Set-up and Training
  • Online Trainings
  • Tools, Resources, and Reference Material

Images: top: Tennessee: Free Online Course Series - Outbreak Investigation and Response;  middle: Florida: Foodborne Illness Introductory Video Series; bottom: Colorado: Environmental Health Assessment Quick Train


February 2015: New Method for Attributing Foodborne Illness

Partners Develop New Method for Attributing Foodborne Illness

Graphic: Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration. Coordinating federal food safety analytics.CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) have developed an improved method for analyzing outbreak data to determine which foods are responsible for illnesses related to four major foodborne bacteria.

Today, the Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration (IFSAC), a partnership among the three agencies, released a report entitled “Foodborne Illness Source Attribution Estimates for Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157 (E. coli O157), Listeria monocytogenes (Lm), and Campylobacter using Outbreak Surveillance Data”.

CDC estimates that, together, these four pathogens causes an estimated 1.9 million cases of foodborne illness in the United States each year.

IFSAC analyzed data from nearly 1,000 outbreaks that occurred from 1998 to 2012 to assess which categories of foods were most responsible for making people sick with Salmonella, E. coli O157, Listeria, and Campylobacter. IFSAC experts divided food into 17 categories for the analysis. The pathogens were chosen because of the frequency or severity of the illnesses they cause, and because targeted interventions can have a significant impact in reducing them.

The report presents the methods behind the results and provides details about the amount of uncertainty around the estimates.  Some of the findings include:

  • More than 80 percent of E. coli O157 illnesses were attributed to beef and vegetable row crops, such as leafy vegetables.
  • Salmonella illnesses were broadly attributed across food commodities, with 77 percent of illnesses related to seeded vegetables (such as tomatoes), eggs, fruits, chicken, beef, sprouts and pork.
  • Nearly 75 percent of Campylobacter illnesses were attributed to dairy (66 percent) and chicken (8 percent). Most of the dairy outbreaks used in the analysis were related to raw milk or cheese produced from raw milk, such as unpasteurized queso fresco.
  • More than 80 percent of Listeria illnesses were attributed to fruit (50 percent) and dairy (31 percent). Data were sparse for Listeria, and the estimate for fruit reflects the impact of a single large outbreak linked to cantaloupes in 2011.

Due to limitations in outbreak data and uncertainty in the estimates, IFSAC recommends caution in interpreting certain findings, such as the estimates for Campylobacter in dairy and Listeria in fruits. IFSAC suggests that the results be used with other scientific data for risk-based decision making.

IFSAC will describe its methods at a public meeting today in Washington, D.C., as part of the overall federal efforts to improve foodborne illness source attribution. For more information on the IFSAC partnership, its goals and projects, please visit the partnership's website.

February 2015: Outbreaks from Raw Milk on the Rise

Outbreaks from raw milk on the rise

Outbreaks caused by raw milk increased over a six-year period, according to a newly released CDC study. The study reviewed outbreaks caused by raw milk--milk that has not been pasteurized to kill disease-causing germs--in the United States that were reported to CDC from 2007-2012. The study analyzed the number of outbreaks, the legal status of raw milk sales in each state, and the number of illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths associated with these outbreaks.

More states are legalizing the sale of raw milk even though this leads to an increase in the number of outbreaks.

Findings also showed that the number of states that have legalized the sale of raw milk has also increased. In 2004, there were 22 states where the sale of raw milk was legal in some form; however, this number increased to 30 in 2011. Eighty-one percent of outbreaks were reported in states where the sale of raw milk was legal.

About the Raw Milk Study:
  • 26 states reported:
    • 81 outbreaks
    • 979 illnesses
    • 73 hospitalizations
  • Outbreaks increased:
    • 30 between 2007-2009
    • 51 between 2010-2012
  • Three germs caused the most outbreaks (2007-2012):
    • Campylobacter - 81%
    • Shiga toxin-producing E.coli - 17%
    • Salmonella - 3%

Children were at the highest risk for illness from raw milk. About sixty percent of outbreaks involved at least one child younger than five years of age.

Raw milk is a risk for human health.

You cannot look at, smell, or taste raw milk to determine if it is safe. Cows and other animals can appear healthy and clean, but can still have germs, like Salmonella and E. coli, which can cause illnesses in humans.

Milk cannot be collected without introducing some bacteria—even under ideal conditions of cleanliness. Unless the milk is pasteurized, these bacteria can multiply.

Even raw milk supplied by "certified," "organic," or "local" dairies has no guarantee of being safe. Raw milk from grass-fed animals is not considered safe either.

How does milk get contaminated?

Milk contamination may occur from:

  • Cow feces coming into direct contact with the milk
  • Infection of the cow's udder (mastitis)
  • Cow diseases (e.g., bovine tuberculosis)
  • Bacteria that live on the skin of cows
  • Environment (e.g., feces, dirt, processing equipment)
  • Insects, rodents, and other animal vectors
  • Humans, for example, by cross-contamination from soiled clothing and boots
Is it true that raw milk has more enzymes and nutrients than pasteurized milk?

Graphic: Bottle of milk poured into a glass. Be wise. Only drink milk that's pasteurized.While it’s true that the heating process of pasteurization does inactivate some enzymes in milk, the enzymes in raw animal milk are not thought to be important in human health. Some nutrients are somewhat reduced in pasteurized milk, but the United States diet generally has plenty of other sources of these nutrients. For example, vitamin C is reduced by pasteurization, but raw milk is not a major source of vitamin C. Read more about the raw milk study.

Learn more about raw milk:

January 2015: Public Meeting Notice: IFSAC Updates

Tri-Agencies to Update Public on Harmonized Foodborne Illness Attribution

Graphic: Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration. Coordinating federal food safety analytics.CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA),  and USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 to update stakeholders on the Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration’s (IFSAC) work to improve foodborne illness source attribution.  Specifically, IFSAC will provide updates on work to develop harmonized foodborne illness source attribution estimates, as well as other analyses IFSAC has undertaken since its formation in 2011. This work can inform food safety strategies. FSIS, FDA, and CDC are also interested in input from stakeholders regarding plans for future IFSAC endeavors.

Meeting Logistics


  • Tuesday, February 24, 2015, 8:30 am – 5:00 pm EST


  • Jefferson Auditorium in South Building, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 14th & Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC


  • Tri-agency collaboration of
    • Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
    • U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA
    • Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Formed in 2011 with the goal to:
    • Improve coordination of federal food safety analytics efforts
    • Address cross-cutting priorities for food safety data collection, analysis, and use
  • Current focus is foodborne illness source attribution
    • Defined as process of estimating the most common food sources responsible for specific foodborne illnesses
  • Projects and studies aim to identify foods that are important sources of illnesses
  • No fee to register
  • Pre-registration is mandatory for participants attending both in-person and via webcast
  • In-person attendees must check-in onsite the day of the meeting
  • Non-USDA employees must enter through the Wing 4 entrance on Independence Avenue and show a photo ID to enter the building
  • Only pre-registered attendees will be permitted to enter the building 
How to Register:
Onsite registration will not be permitted.  Early registration is recommended because seating is limited.


Additional Information:

Please note the following important dates:

  • February 9, 2015: Closing date for request to make oral comment  
  • February 9, 2015: Closing date to request special accommodations due to a disability
  • February 17, 2015: Closing date for registration
  • April 30, 2015: Closing date to submit comments to Docket Clerk