National Environmental Assessment Reporting System

What to know

Use CDC’s free National Environmental Assessment Reporting System (NEARS) surveillance system to capture environmental assessment data from foodborne illness outbreak investigations. NEARS can help you improve your food safety program while contributing to the larger understanding of trends and root causes of outbreaks.

NEARS graphic

New and returning users

New to NEARS? Find out how to register for the system and gain access.

Returning NEARS user? Log on.

Contact us for NEARS questions and technical assistance.

Program benefits

Participating in NEARS helps you identify and understand outbreaks of foodborne illness in your community. Ultimately, it can help prevent outbreaks associated with restaurants, banquet facilities, schools, and other institutions. Your program can access and use your NEARS dataA at any time to help you:

  • Identify root causes of outbreaks in your jurisdiction
  • Take follow-up action to reduce or prevent future foodborne illness outbreaks
  • Evaluate your program and make improvements based on established guidelines
  • Develop or modify program policies or regulations
  • Focus limited program resources on actions with the highest impact
  • Meet the Food and Drug Administration's Retail Food Program Standards (Standard 5)

Watch a NEARS webinar hosted by the National Environmental Health Association to learn more about how NEARS can benefit your program.

Food safety benefits

CDC and national food safety partners recommend all food safety programs use NEARS to improve food safety in the United States. Environmental assessments are a part of outbreak investigations. They help find the underlying root causes of outbreaks. By participating in NEARS, your program is providing critical data from these assessments to prevent and reduce future outbreaks. CDC and its national food safety partners will:

  • Analyze NEARS data to understand how and why outbreaks occur and
  • Share NEARS findings or recommend actions to better respond to outbreaks and prevent future outbreaks.

Regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration use information from NEARS to develop intervention strategies and guidelines such as those found in the Food Code. Food safety programs use this information during outbreak investigations and every day for issuing permits and inspecting restaurants and other facilities. Learn more about NEARS and other accomplishments in improving investigations.


What participants have said‎

Four NEARS participants share their experiences with NEARS.

Video from the National Environmental Health Association.

" first data entry was a pleasantly smooth process... Our Food Safety Program is excited for the clear and consistently organized format we can use to download our data at the end of the year. NEARS appears to be just the tool we needed." – Food Safety Program, Washington State Department of Health

"[NEARS] increases our conformance with FDA's Retail Program Standard 5 — Foodborne Illness and Food Defense Preparedness and Response." – NEARS user, state department of health

  1. NEARS data are held on a central server complying with all security policies for CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.