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Environmental Assessment Training Series (EATS)

Screenshot from YouTube food safety training promo video.

Check out our short food safety training promo video.

The skills needed to investigate outbreaks of foodborne illness are different from those needed to inspect restaurants, and the role of environmental health staff is critical. EATS addresses the role of environmental assessments within the broader context of outbreak investigations and the food safety system.

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What Are the Benefits of This Training?

It’s free and available anytime: Take the courses at your own pace in this online learning program.

It’s practical: Learn how to identify an outbreak’s environmental causes, recommend appropriate control measures, and practice conducting virtual environmental assessments.

You can earn continuing education units (CEUs) from CDC after completing the courses and final evaluation (optional).


What Topics Are Addressed?

 EATS 101: Foundation Skills (formerly e-Learning on Environmental Assessment of Foodborne Illness Outbreaks)

  • Learn concepts, key skills, and steps for environmental assessments of restaurants implicated in an outbreak
  • Practice interviewing food workers, conducting environmental assessments, and other skills through simulated exercises

EATS 102: Skill Building (Coming Soon!)

  • Practice applying environmental assessment skills in multiple outbreak scenarios:
    • A private school
    • A local catering establishment
    • A grower and distributor of organic herbs and
    • A cheese manufacturer.

How Long Does It Take?

For pilot testers, about half of the courses took around an hour each. The rest took between 2 and 2½ hours each.

What Are People Saying?

We tested this course with environmental health, and food safety staff. Users said:

  • “Probably the best online training I’ve ever done! There were lots of interactive portions…I’ve already used some of the questioning tactics…I think it would help any inspector for outbreaks…Two thumbs up!” (Environmental Health Specialist, Minnesota Department of Health)
  • “It is by far the best online training I have taken.” (Jennifer Pierquet, MPH, Iowa Food Safety and Consumer Bureau)
  • “I anticipate more effective interviewing during an outbreak and being better able to do my job as an environmental health specialist.” (Learner taking the course for CEUs)
  • “I will be a more effective foodborne illness investigator.” (Learner taking the course for CEUs)

9 in 10 users who took the training for CEUs agreed that the training addressed a need or a gap in their knowledge or skills and effectively met their educational needs.

EATS students show a 40% increase in knowledge of environmental assessments.

Who Is the Training For?

This online course is designed for environmental health professionals and food safety program officials in government agencies, as well as those from scientific, industry, and consumer groups.

CDC encourages food safety officials to apply their knowledge of environmental assessments by

  1. Conducting environmental assessments during outbreak investigations and
  2. Then reporting data from these assessments to CDC’s National Environmental Assessment Reporting System (NEARS).

Data collected in NEARS will help CDC and other public health professionals prevent outbreaks by understanding why and how they happen.

Additional Resources

EHS e-Learning
EHS Food Safety Resources
National Environmental Assessment Reporting System (NEARS)
What Are Environmental Assessments?