Success Stories

These stories illustrate the work FoodCORE does to advance public health across the United States.

FoodCORE experts work to detect and respond to outbreaks, train professionals and strengthen health systems, and create programs that increase the safety of people’s food, water, and environment. Read about some of the specific ways we do this below.

Latest Success Story
Graphic of a magnifying glass

Using Foodborne Illness Complaint Systems as an Effective Tool for Surveillance

Foodborne illness complaint systems are an effective surveillance tool for detecting enteric illnesses. Collecting complaints of suspected foodborne illness allows public health agencies to detect potential outbreaks sooner and implement control and education measures to prevent more people from getting sick. Many public health agencies across the United States have implemented complaint systems in their own jurisdictions, including three FoodCORE centers: Minnesota, Utah, and Tennessee.

Past Success Stories

person holding guinea pig

Extending Capacity Beyond Food

Since 2010, FoodCORE centers have used targeted resources to improve capacity for foodborne disease surveillance, detection, and response activities at the state and local level. While their efforts primarily focus on foodborne outbreaks caused by Salmonella, Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli, and Listeria, the centers’ improved capacity has successfully aided in the response to enteric disease outbreaks from other sources, such as waterborne and zoonotic outbreaks, and outbreaks from other enteric pathogens.

boy and turtle

FoodCORE Centers Investigate Zoonotic Outbreaks
Diseases that are shared between animals and people are known as zoonotic diseases. It is hard to know which animals could be carrying zoonotic diseases, especially since animals carrying germs often look and act healthy and normal. FoodCORE centers work to quickly detect, investigate, respond to, and control zoonotic outbreaks, just as they do with other enteric disease outbreaks. Investigating zoonotic outbreaks can be challenging, and the link to animal exposure may not be easy to identify.

hand holding a petri-dish with culture

FoodCORE Centers and Real-World Use of GI CIDTs: Adapting to Changes in Clinical Diagnostics
The consequences of increased use of culture-independent diagnostic tests (CIDTs) on disease surveillance are no longer theoretical, and FoodCORE centers are making changes to assure they can continue to efficiently identify and investigate enteric outbreaks. They will continue to share lessons learned with other state and local health departments as they work with real-world implications of CIDTs.

image of jub of milk and cow

Innovative Product Testing Method Solves Outbreak Linked to Raw Milk
It is difficult to detect Campylobacter in raw milk, so Utah health agencies collaborated with partners to use a new sampling method to test raw milk for the outbreak strain. Their determination to confirm the source of the outbreak and success of this sampling methods stopped the outbreak and prevented additional illnesses.

Three interlocking circles: Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Laboratory

Going the Distance: Tennessee and Colorado Successfully Collaborate Despite being Miles Apart
Though they are many miles apart, the Tennessee and Colorado FoodCORE centers were able to bring together epidemiology, laboratory, and environmental health professionals to conduct a complete investigation of a Salmonella outbreak at a summer camp. By working together, investigators in multiple states can identify and thoroughly investigate more outbreaks.

boy playing in splash pad

Tennessee FoodCORE Team Aims to Keep Splash Pads Safe and Fun
After linking a Salmonella outbreak to a splash pad in west Tennessee, the Tennessee FoodCORE team investigated splash pads across the state to identify their hazards and to prevent similar outbreaks. This investigation led the Tennessee Department of Health to develop guidance to help keep splash pads safer for people to enjoy.

Women at resturant using cell phone.

Using Online Restaurant Reviews to Find Local Foodborne Outbreaks
Local health departments detect many foodborne outbreaks through illness complaint systems. Each year, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s illness complaint system receives approximately 3,000 complaints, but it is likely that many more are never reported. Staff at DOHMH collaborated with Columbia University and Yelp, an online review site, to pilot a project to identify foodborne outbreaks that may go undetected through traditional complaint systems.

Image of chia seeds and powder.

Asking the Right Questions Quickly from the Beginning
During an already busy summer in 2014, several FoodCORE centers proved once again to be instrumental during the investigation of a multistate outbreak of Salmonella infections – this time involving multiple Salmonella serotypes. PulseNet initially detected several ill people with a rare DNA fingerprint of Salmonella Newport and multiple health departments, including six FoodCORE centers, immediately began working with their federal partners on the investigation.

Baby laying on pillow

Stopping a Salmonella Outbreak among Infants in a Nursery
In a quaint town along the South Carolina coast, an otherwise healthy 5 month old girl began to show signs of getting sick. After a few days of diarrhea, her condition worsened, and she started having blood in her stools. Her parents immediately took her to their pediatrician, where a stool sample revealed a Salmonella infection.

girl riding an intertube on a lake

Wisconsin’s Public Health Sleuths Take to the Lake
In the summer of 2012, a Wisconsin lake was the site of an outbreak of gastrointestinal illnesses. Local public health officials at the Jackson County Health Department were quickly notified of these illnesses and started to investigate the situation. Early on, officials found that many of the sick people had been at the same outdoor recreation area the day before they got ill.

Graphic: FoodNet map

FoodCORE and FoodNet: Complementary Collaborations in Connecticut
In 2012, CDC scientists monitored between 16 and 57 potential food poisoning clusters each week and investigated more than 200 multistate clusters nationwide. Two of CDC’s food safety programs partner with 15 jurisdictions to get ahead of stubborn foodborne outbreaks: FoodCORE and FoodNet.

Photo of a cow

Tennessee Detectives Investigate an Outbreak of Cryptosporidium
In the summer of 2012, public health officials in Tennessee were notified that a group of volunteers were sick with gastroenteritis. The volunteers were from multiple states and had traveled to Tennessee to work on a farm. Tennessee officials collaborated with several other states to figure out what caused the illness.

Graphic: University of FoodCORE logo

“U” niversity partnerships-at the core of FoodCORE
It’s hard to imagine that simply having students talk with patients about chicken livers, raw milk, and sprouts could help protect our food supply and save lives, but it’s true. These students have become integral in identifying the culprits in outbreaks of foodborne illness across the country.

Photo: Computer keyboard keys

Ohio Uses Social Media to Help Protect People from Norovirus
Foodborne Diseases Centers for Outbreak Response Enhancement (FoodCORE) played a key role in solving a 2012 multistate outbreak of Salmonella Bareilly and Nchanga infections.

Photo: Raw Scraped Ground Tuna

Helping Solve Salmonella Outbreak Mysteries
Foodborne Diseases Centers for Outbreak Response Enhancement (FoodCORE) played a key role in solving a 2012 multistate outbreak of Salmonella Bareilly and Nchanga infections.

Photo: Group picture of New York City's 'Team Salmonella'

New York City’s “Team Salmonella” Successful in Solving an Outbreak
In August 2011, public health officials began an investigation into a Salmonella outbreak in which many cases resided in New York. An in-depth investigation was conducted by the New York City Department of Mental Health and Hygiene (NYCDOHMH), who is a partner in the FoodCORE project.

Photo: Blocks of Queso Fresco cheese

Utah Solves a Two-year Outbreak Mystery
For over 2 years, public health officials in Utah struggled with a Salmonella outbreak linked to queso fresco.