Foodborne Outbreaks - Transcript

When a multi state foodborne outbreak is detected, CDC works quickly to collect as much information as possible to find the source, so we can take action to prevent more people from getting sick. To do this, public health and regulatory officials gather three types of data during an investigation: epidemiologic, traceback, and food and environmental testing to link illnesses to contaminated foods. Epidemiologic data takes several forms. Patterns in where and when people got sick, and past outbreaks caused by the same germ; Interviews with sick people to look for foods or other exposures happening more often than expected, and discovery of clusters of unrelated sick people who ate at the same restaurant, shopped at the same grocery store, or attended the same event. The second type of data is collected through an investigation called traceback . Officials look for a common point of contamination in the distribution chain from farm to fork. We review records collected from restaurants or stores where sick people ate or shopped, and conduct inspections in restaurants, in food production facilities, and on farms, looking for food safety risks. Then there is food and environmental testing data. Scientists look for the germ that caused illness in a food item collected from a sick person’s home or a retail location, or in the food production environment. We analyze lab samples to determine if the DNA fingerprint of the germs found in sick people can be linked to the germs found in food or production environments. Health officials evaluate all these types of data to try to identify the source of the outbreak. We take action when there is clear and convincing information, linking illness to a contaminated food. Health officials warn the public. Companies recall contaminated products. And restaurants or food production facilities might close temporarily CDC is dedicated to constantly improving the ways we investigate and solve foodborne outbreaks.

For more information on CDC’s efforts to prevent foodborne illness and keep Americans healthy and safe, go to https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/outbreaks/ or https://www.cdc.gov/pulsenet/.

Page last reviewed: May 11, 2018