246470 Systems-based environmental assessment as a new tool for produce related foodborne illness outbreak investigation and prevention

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Willette Crawford, PhD, MPH , Office of Food Safety, U.S. FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, College Park, MD
Kevin Gerrity , Division of Domestic Field Investigations, U.S. FDA, San Diego, CA
Mansoor A. Baloch, PhD , Environmental Health Services Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
John Guzewich , Office of Food Defense, Communication, and Emergency Response, U.S. FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, College Park, MD
For over a decade FDA has recognized the unique challenges with increasing the safety of fresh produce. From 1996 to 2009, there have been eighty-seven known multistate foodborne illness outbreaks associated with the consumption of fresh produce where contamination most likely occurred on the farm. Investigation of these types of outbreak and contamination events are confounding given the environment in which the products are produced and the numerous environmental interactions that impact their safety. Traditional outbreak response focuses on the containment of such incidents; however, the use of environmental assessment allows FDA to take a step further to determine how the environment contributes to the introduction, transmission and proliferation of pathogens or other hazards. An in-depth, systems-based environmental assessment was conducted in response to a multi-state foodborne disease outbreak investigation involving 33 cases of E. coli O145 infection in five states in the spring of 2010. Potential sources and transmission routes of contamination were discovered, which allowed for the identification and implementation of preventive control strategies that will potentially prevent future contamination of fresh produce, thereby preventing foodborne illnesses and deaths.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the challenges associated with investigation of fresh produce foodborne illness outbreaks Describe the difference between traditional outbreak investigation methods and environmental assessment investigations Discuss the strengths of environmental assessment as a food safety investigation and prevention tool

Keywords: Food Safety, Environmental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am a public and environmental health professional that conducts foodborne illness outbreak investigation and develops food safety policy.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.