About FoodCORE

Image of different types of meats, vegetables and fruits

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year, foodborne diseases cause illness in 1 in 6 Americans (or about 48 million people) resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. In 2013, CDC monitored between 29 and 41 potential food poisoning or related clusters each week, and investigated more than 220 multistate clusters. These investigations led to the identification of 50 confirmed or suspected vehicles of transmission and the recalls of a variety of foods including frozen pizza snacks , salads , chicken , ground beef , and tahini sesame paste .

The foods involved in these clusters are many and varied, which complicates the investigation of foodborne outbreaks. Fast and effective outbreak investigations are therefore needed to identify and remove contaminated food from the market to prevent additional illnesses. Identifying contaminated foods and learning how the contamination happened also help public health officials develop methods to prevent similar outbreaks in the future. However, most state health departments lack the resources to conduct comprehensive foodborne disease surveillance and to conduct rapid, coordinated detection and response to multistate outbreaks.

What is FoodCORE?

In 2009, CDC funded a pilot project to improve state and local responses to foodborne disease outbreaks. This project was launched in three centers with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Association of Public Health Laboratories. It was so successful that in 2010, CDC expanded the project to additional centers. In 2011, the project was renamed FoodCORE — Foodborne Diseases Centers for Outbreak Response Enhancement. Currently ten centers participate, covering about 18% of the U.S. population (see map).

FoodCORE centers work together to develop new and better methods to detect, investigate, respond to, and control multistate outbreaks of foodborne diseases. Efforts are primarily focused on outbreaks caused by bacteria, including Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), and Listeria. The ability to detect and investigate viral and parasitic foodborne disease outbreaks will also be strengthened. Please watch the video below for more information about the FoodCORE program.

What are FoodCORE’s key areas?

  • Enhancement of public health laboratory surveillance
  • Epidemiologic interviews and investigations
  • Environmental health assessments
  • Best practices and replicable models for
    • Detection
    • Investigation
    • Response
    • Control

“The FoodCORE centers improve our capacity to interview ill persons sooner and more comprehensively about what they ate, conduct faster DNA fingerprinting of the bacteria that made them sick, and pool information swiftly to determine sources of more contaminated foods, so solutions can be found more rapidly.”

-Dr. Robert Tauxe, Deputy Director, CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases

What are the FoodCORE performance metrics?

The FoodCORE performance metrics are a list of measurable activities covering diverse aspects of outbreak response. These activities span from outbreak surveillance and detection through investigation, response, control, and prevention measures. Using the metrics, each center provides data about the burden, timeliness, and completeness of foodborne disease activities related to the key areas of activity. These performance metrics are:

The performance metrics are comprised of specific measures related to each key area of activity:

  • Laboratory Surveillance
    • Isolate/specimen submission
    • Complete and timely subtyping
    • Communication of lab findings
  • Epidemiological Interviews and Investigations
    • Complete and timely case interviewing
    • Outbreak detection and data review
    • Outbreak investigations, analytic studies, and interventions
    • Conduct trainings with federal, state, and local public health partners
  • Environmental Health
    • Environmental health assessments as part of investigative teams
    • Communication and coordination between public health agencies
    • Conduct trainings with federal, state, and local public health partners
Map of FoodCORE fact sheet graphic

Improving enteric disease investigation and response in states and local health departments