FoodCORE Center: Oregon

map of state of Oregon

Program Overview

Oregon’s FoodCORE program was established by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) in 2014 to improve response to foodborne outbreaks in Oregon by enhancing epidemiologic investigations.

Oregon FoodCORE team

“As students, the partnership between FoodCORE and the Oregon Public Health Division has given us the opportunity to gain valuable real-world experience working at a state public health agency.  It is also rewarding to see that our work through FoodCORE provides Oregon with important capacity for surveillance, investigation, and response to foodborne outbreaks.”

Ian Pray, FoodCORE MPH Student Team

“FoodCORE is key to our ability to solve outbreaks: ferreting out precisely what exposures the cases had in common and finding the food that spread the illness. FoodCORE pays the people who do this work and helps to train the work force of the future.”

Paul Cieslak, Medical Director

At A Glance

Year joined FoodCORE: 2014
Population: 4.0 M1
Structure: Centralized
Number of local and tribal health departments: 34


  • Hired 2 MPH student interns from Oregon Health & Science University to conduct hypothesis-generating interviews of Salmonella and STEC cases.
  • Formed the Oregon PFGE cluster investigation team, the Cluster Busters; a group of 14 staff members from Oregon’s Acute and Communicable Disease Prevention Program. This team detects, tracks, and investigates clusters of enteric disease.


  • Perform PFGE analysis for all Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), and Shigella isolates
  • Maintain a courier service to deliver specimens to state laboratory

Environmental Health

  • Conduct trainings for state and local environmental health staff on outbreak investigation methods
  • Collaborate with local health departments to conduct environmental health assessments for all foodborne outbreaks

112015 Population Estimate

Program Highlight

Since becoming a FoodCORE center in August of 2014, the Oregon FoodCORE program has hired students to interview people infected with Salmonella or Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli infections. The students compare exposures from related cases to identify commonalities and examine their hypotheses with statistical tests. Findings can lead to food tracebacks or collection of suspected foods for testing.

Since receiving FoodCORE funding Oregon has investigated several outbreaks and clusters. In 2015, we investigated 292 outbreaks and 42 PFGE clusters that resulted in about 4,500 cases of illness. Of the outbreaks linked to food, the majority were caused by norovirus (44%) or Salmonella (30%). Shiga toxin- producing E. coli (STEC), Listeria, Yersinia, Sapovirus, and scombroid poisoning each caused one or two outbreaks; 4% of outbreaks were caused by unknown pathogens. An environmental health assessment was performed in 94% of foodborne outbreaks that occurred at a licensed facility, and laboratory specimens were collected in 96% of foodborne outbreaks.