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Infectious Disease: Food Safety

The food safety subcommittee is made up of public health professionals dedicated to building epidemiology capacity for the detection and prevention of foodborne illness. The food safety subcommittee conducted an assessment of food safety epidemiology capacity in 2010, the findings and recommendations from which have been compiled into a summary report.

CSTE co-chairs the Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak and Response (CIFOR), a multidisciplinary working group convened by CSTE and CDC in 2005 to increase collaboration and to reduce the burden of foodborne illness in the U.S. CIFOR is working on a number of projects, including a law project, an epidemiology-laboratory integrated reporting pilot project to more rapidly identify outbreaks, and a project to identify foodborne disease metrics.

CIFOR Guidelines for Foodborne Disease Outbreak Response and CIFOR Toolkit: The CIFOR Guidelines for Foodborne Disease Outbreak Response was published in 2009 to give all agencies a common foundation from which to work and to provide examples of the key activities that should occur during foodborne disease outbreak response. In 2011, the CIFOR Toolkit was released to aid in the implementation of the Guidelines using three steps: describing current activities and procedures, prioritizing CIFOR Guidelines recommendations to address needed improvements, and making plans to implement the selected recommendations. CSTE funded 23 state-based trainings in 2011-2012 to use the CIFOR Toolkit and identify recommendations from the Guidelines to implement.
Team training materials: The Epi-Ready course is a team-based training for public health professionals involved in foodborne disease outbreak investigations. CSTE worked with consultant Jeanette Stehr-Green to revise the course content to reflect advances in outbreak response and approaches to public health training since the creation of the original content. The revised content includes an updated curriculum, a modified schedule, more interactive material for the participants, and updated instructor materials.
CIFOR law project: New CIFOR documents gives tools to public health agencies and jurisdictions to improve their legal preparedness to conduct surveillance for foodborne diseases and respond to outbreaks. These documents provide guidance for outbreaks both within agencies’ jurisdictions and across multiple states and other jurisdictional boundaries. Each of the three documents is designed to address a discrete but related research need and audience.
  • The Analysis of State Legal Authorities describes and analyzes the types of state legal authorities currently available to conduct foodborne disease surveillance and outbreak response activities.
  • The Practitioners’ Handbook on Legal Authorities is a practical guide for public health professionals with roles in foodborne disease surveillance and outbreak response.
  • The Menu of Legal Options can be considered by state public health officials and policy makers when reviewing their jurisdiction’s legal authorities to conduct foodborne disease surveillance and outbreak response actions.
CIFOR performance indicators: Chapter 8 of the CIFOR Guidelines was developed for state and local public health agencies to evaluate the performance of their foodborne programs, but it does not include specific recommendations for targets that agencies should be meeting. This project seeks to develop recommended targets from the Performance Indicators and other sources that will help agencies demonstrate their public health performance and effectiveness for the overall outcome of better population health.
EpiVenture – Prototype for Web-based Course on Outbreak Investigation Training: EpiVenture is a proposed self-instructional, web-based course that teaches public health practitioners how to investigate food and waterborne disease outbreaks through basic epidemiologic, environmental health, and laboratory topics relevant to outbreak investigation. Learners can fit the material into their schedules at their convenience and can progress through the training at their own rates and select the specific topics they study. The prototype, developed with CDC funding, includes only a small portion of the course and focuses on one topic, case definitions.
For more information about the Food Safety Subcommittees and their activities, please contact Dhara Patel. Click here to view other Infectious Disease Steering Committee activities.
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