New Tool Lets Users Track Foodborne Outbreaks

Foodborne illness outbreak online search tool launched by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh

(RxWiki News) Anyone with Internet access can now track every US foodborne illness outbreak reported in the past 15 years.

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched a new and improved online search tool designed to make it easier to search for data on foodborne illness outbreaks.

According to the CDC, tracking and reporting outbreak information is critical for understanding how foodborne illness affects the health of the American public.

Originally developed in 2009, the updated Foodborne Outbreak Online Database (FOOD) tool now includes both single- and multi-state foodborne outbreak data reported to the CDC between 1998 and 2014. It allows users to search by state, food or germ. New interactive features, such as maps and graphs, also allow users to search by specific food item or ingredient and view a "quick stats" display.

The original version only allowed users to sift through data by state, where the food was consumed and the pathogen responsible.

The FOOD tool gets its data from the CDC’s Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System, which tracks information on foodborne outbreaks caused by viral, parasitic, bacterial and chemical agents that are reported to state and local public health agencies. This data is then analyzed for potential causes and impact.

According to the CDC, the database is intended for news reporters and members of the general the public who are interested in the history of recent or ongoing foodborne illness outbreaks. During an outbreak, public health officials could also potentially use this database to point them toward possible culprits by searching for the foods and germs implicated in past outbreaks.

However, it should be noted that health departments can modify their reports at any time — even months or years after an outbreak — and that some outbreaks are never reported to CDC.

According to the CDC, an estimated 1 in 6 Americans gets sick from a foodborne illness each year.

To access the tool, you can visit the CDC website.

Review Date: 
October 22, 2015
Last Updated:
October 27, 2015