September Is National Food Safety Education Month

Calling food safety programs! Improve your outbreak investigations with our new resources on contributing factors and NEARS, our National Environmental Assessment Reporting System.

What Are the Top 4 Contributing Factors to Outbreaks in Restaurants?

Graphic image of a chef in a chef's hat.

Check out our new infographic to find out! You’ll also learn how food safety programs can work to identify these behaviors, practices, and environmental conditions that lead to outbreaks.

You may also like our infographics on

What Can I Do To Identify Contributing Factors for Outbreaks?

To identify contributing factors, investigators should conduct environmental assessments of food establishments. The environmental assessments should be

  • Guided by knowledge about the germ linked to the outbreak.
  • Conducted as soon as investigators learn of a potential outbreak.
  • Conducted with multiple visits to the outbreak establishment (if required).

Learn more in our new fact sheet of findings and recommendations based on data from nearly 300 outbreaks reported to NEARS.

Image of the cover of the National Environmental Assessment Reporting System (NEARS) manual.

What Is NEARS and How Can It Help My Program?

NEARS captures environmental assessment data from foodborne illness outbreak investigations to help prevent outbreaks associated with restaurants and other food venues. You can access and use your NEARS data at any time to

  • Identify environmental causes of outbreaks in your jurisdiction.
  • Evaluate and improve your food safety program based on established guidelines.
  • Focus limited program resources on actions with the highest impact.
  • Help your program meet the Food and Drug Administration’s Retail Food Program Standards.

How Can I Learn More About NEARS?

Spend an hour getting to know this surveillance system with our on-demand NEARS webinar.External
Explore our annual summary reports for information on characteristics of previous outbreaks and the establishments where the outbreaks occurred.
Check our participant map to see if your jurisdiction is registered.

But Wait, There’s More!

Check out Food Safety Innovations in Federal Guidelines Cdc-pdf[PDF – 402 KB], our latest column in the Journal of Environmental Health.

Find food safety tools and guidance, training, research, and investigations for environmental health professionals on our Food Safety Resources Page. Check back often!

Learn why some people are more vulnerable to food poisoning:

Learn about norovirus, the leading cause of illnesses and outbreaks from contaminated food in the United States.

Page last reviewed: August 28, 2017 (archived document)