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Controlling an Outbreak

Once a food is found to be the source of illness, control measures may be needed right away. If contaminated food stays on store shelves, in restaurant kitchens, or in home pantries, more people may get sick. Outbreak control measures might include requiring specific measures to clean and disinfect food facilities, temporarily closing a restaurant or processing plant, recalling food items, telling the public how to make the food safe or to avoid it completely, or telling consumers to throw away the suspect food from their pantry or refrigerator.

Public health officials may decide on control measures on the basis of strong epidemiological evidence on the disease's origin, spread, and development. They do not need to wait for proof of contamination from the laboratory. This practice can result in earlier action to protect the public's health. As officials learn more during the investigation, they may change, focus, or expand control measures and advice to the public.