FoodNet Fast Data Access

Project Name: FoodNet Fast Data Access

Project Status: Proposed

Point of Contact: Mary Patrick

Center: National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases

Keywords: FoodNet, surveillance

Project Description: The Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) is a collaboration among CDC, 10 state health departments, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FoodNet conducts active, population-based surveillance for laboratory-confirmed infections caused by Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Listeria, Salmonella, Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157 and non-O157, Shigella, Vibrio, and Yersinia in 10 sites covering 15% of the U.S. population (48 million persons in 2013). FoodNet houses the most up-to-date data available on the incidence of these enteric infections, and is used to identify important trends in illness and guide and monitor food safety policy and prevention efforts.

FoodNet releases preliminary summary data for the previous year, often referred to as the nation’s food safety “report card,” every spring in an issue of the MMWR and publishes final detailed data in an annual report every December. FoodNet makes the data tables available online and they can be downloaded as a PDF. However, the current format limits access to detailed data, in part because creating and updating the tables and reports each year is very time consuming. Stakeholders have asked for easier access to FoodNet data.

We will build an interface for our public website ( that would allow users to query FoodNet data, including number and incidence rate of infections by year, age, sex, and gender, as well as information on hospitalization rates, seasonality, international travel, and outbreak association. For some queries, the interface could include data visualization options, such as charts and graphs. Information would be generated on demand from pre-constructed data tables that would be updated twice a year. This interface would provide FoodNet data in an easy-to-access and customizable format more quickly to the public, public health partners, regulatory agencies, consumer groups, and other stakeholders. The tool also would increase program visibility and reduce work load on CDC FoodNet staff.

Project Impact: Data would be available via the Internet and could be queried in multiple ways depending on the needs of the user. Having an online database allows direct access to FoodNet data and reduces time between data collection and data release. The interface would replace (or partially replace) the current set of tables, which are produced once a year that summarize the more detailed analyses of the FoodNet data, and allow stakeholders to create customized queries.

Applicability of project for use by other public health programs: This project will be developed using responsive design so that the tools can be used on multiple devices. The project will provide a framework for additional functionality and will incorporate data handling principles that can be applied to other surveillance systems across CDC. In fact, the type of interface that we are requesting has been created and successfully used by other CDC programs, including the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). It seems to be an easy, fast, and efficient way to share public health information.

Methodology: FoodNet epidemiologists, along with a team of IT developers with previous database development experience, will hold a rapid series of sessions to scope the project to establish a set of core requirements and timeline. With help from usability experts to aid in designing an easy-to-use and intuitive graphical display with query and download capabilities, the developers will code the project, which will be beta-tested by a smaller team of FoodNet and IT staff during each phase of development. We hope the tool could be fully developed and submitted for NCEZID ISSO approval within 6 months. After the project is implemented, we will conduct a yearly evaluation to measure the tool’s efficacy and identify opportunities for enhancement.

For more information about this project, please contact the CHIIC at or Brian Lee at

Page last reviewed: February 15, 2019
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