FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 1, 2014
Preventing Foodborne Illness Outbreaks
DENVER — The
National Environmental Health Association
(NEHA) has released its assessment of the capacity of local and
state agencies to undertake foodborne illness outbreak investigation
and response. The report, Assessment of Foodborne Illness
Outbreak Response and Investigation Capacity in US Environmental
Health Food Safety Regulatory Programs, contains the results of
an extensive study of the ability of food safety agencies to respond
to foodborne outbreaks. Notable findings of the report include key
steps needed to ensure adequate resources are allocated to properly
handle an outbreak.
NEHA was asked to conduct this assessment by the
Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response
(CIFOR) to determine the capacity of local and state agencies to
undertake foodborne illness outbreak investigation and response.
While preliminary data was gathered through focus groups, the study
consisted of a questionnaire sent to almost 900 individuals at local
and state food agencies to assess budgetary constraints, staff
capacity and training, and agency effectiveness in investigation and
response to foodborne outbreaks.
Among the findings published in the report is the effect budget cuts
and financial strains on health and agricultural departments have
had at both the local and state level, leading to issues such as
stagnating salaries and inadequate or underfunded training. The
result of these trends is a high turnover rate of employment, staff
with less experience and training, and a decreased ability to
respond to foodborne outbreaks. Smaller municipalities and local
agencies tend to experience these effects at higher rates.
The full report can be found
and recommends a series of policy actions to address these new
challenges. The report advocates prioritizing resources for training
and education, increasing collaboration and cooperation across
agencies to enhance their outreach and effectiveness, and utilizing
new technologies and standardized practices to make up for the lack
of funding and experienced staff.
Last week, CIFOR has released a second edition of its Guidelines
for Foodborne Disease Outbreak Response. The guidelines
describe the overall approach to foodborne disease outbreaks,
including preparation, detection, investigation, control and
follow-up. The guidelines are targeted at local, state and federal
agencies that are responsible for preventing and managing foodborne
disease, and it describes the roles of all key organizations in
foodborne disease outbreaks.
About the National Environmental Health Association
NEHA's mission, "to advance the environmental health and protection
professional for the purpose of providing a healthful environment
for all" is represented in the products and services offered by NEHA
through training, education, networking, professional development,
and policy involvement opportunities. The basis for the
association’s activities is the belief that the professional who is
trained, educated, and motivated is the professional who will make
the greatest contribution to the healthful environmental goals.
Learn more about NEHA at
The AEC will be held at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, July 7th –
10th, 2014. Information about the conference can be found