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Steps in Reporting Foodborne Disease Outbreaks and Accessing Data

Outbreak data can be a powerful tool for learning what to do to prevent and stop occurrences. CDC’s multiple food safety groups and public-health partners team to collect outbreak reports, analyze the data, and provide public access to this vital information.

The steps in reporting a foodborne disease outbreak include:

  1. People, who have been exposed to a pathogen and get sick, seek treatment. When two or more people experience a similar illness from eating or drinking the same food, this event becomes an outbreak.
  2. State, local, and territorial public health departments investigate the outbreak then report their findings through CDC’s National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS).
  3. CDC’s Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System downloads and verifies the data from the health department then analyzes it for trends.
  4. FDOSS makes the data available for the public to assess through FOOD Tool, CDC’s Foodborne Outbreak Online Database. (For more information, see the FOOD Tool FAQ.)

How to Report a Foodborne Illness