US online tool offers instant data on foodborne disease

Thursday, 29 October, 2015

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has redesigned its online tool, making it easier to search data on foodborne disease outbreaks. The updated Foodborne Outbreak Online Database Tool (FOOD Tool) lets users search nearly 20 years of outbreak data by state, food or germ.

Originally developed in 2009, the FOOD Tool includes national foodborne outbreak data reported to CDC from 1998 to 2014. New interactive features such as maps, graphs and tables allow users to search by specific foods and ingredients, view a ‘quick stats’ display and get case counts for multistate outbreaks.

An estimated 1 in 6 Americans get sick from foodborne illness every year. During an outbreak, public health investigators can use the database to help point them towards possible contaminated food sources by searching foods, and the germs, implicated in past outbreaks. Reporters and members of the public can use the database to understand the history of recent or ongoing outbreaks of foodborne illness.

The FOOD Tool lets users search foodborne disease data by year, state, location of food preparation, food and ingredient and cause. It provides information on numbers of illnesses, hospitalisations, deaths, the germ and the cause — confirmed or suspected.

FOOD Tool’s data come from CDC’s Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System (FDOSS), which captures information on foodborne outbreaks caused by enteric (intestinal) bacterial, viral, parasitic and chemical agents reported by state, local and territorial public health agencies. CDC analyses these data to understand the impact of foodborne outbreaks and the causes, foods, settings and contributing factors (for example, food kept at room temperature for too long) involved in outbreaks.

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