Environmental Assessments and Training

Foodborne illness is a significant problem in the United States, and environmental assessments are an important part of addressing it. Environmental assessments help identify the underlying environmental causes of foodborne illness outbreaks. These assessments find out how any why germs get into the environment and spread. Findings from environmental assessments can be used to recommend steps to stop outbreaks and prevent future ones.

Certified Foodborne Outbreak Investigator (CFOI) Credential

NEHA is currently developing a Certified Foodborne Outbreak Investigator (CFOI) credential with the assistance of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). A Certified Foodborne Outbreak Investigator utilizes the environmental health principles and food safety knowledge in collaboration with outbreak response partners to assess foodborne illness risks, perform environmental assessments, identify contributing factors and antecedents, and implement control measures to prevent the spread of foodborne illness and protect the public.

The credential exam will cover the following areas:

  • Detecting Outbreaks
  • Preparing for Investigation
  • Contributing to Epidemiologic Investigation
  • Performing Environmental Assessment
  • Collecting Samples
  • Reviewing Investigation Findings
  • Conducting Product Tracing
  • Implementing Control Measures
  • Concluding Actions


The credential will be released in late 2017. Please click below to request more information during the developmental phase of the credential. 



Foodborne Illness Outbreak Environmental Assessment (FBEA) Certificate Training

The FBEA certificate training is designed for environmental health specialists who want to take the most in-depth training available on environmental assessments. A working understanding of foodborne outbreak investigations and basic experience with routine inspections is recommended. This comprehensive self-paced training covers 13 environmental assessment topics and incorporates a variety of existing trainings from mixed modalities into the curriculum. Learning is assessed with individual module quizzes, with a required passing score of 80% or better. Upon completion of the training, users are presented with 13 NEHA continuing education credits. 

NEHA worked with the Colorado Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence, the Rocky Mountain Public Health Training Center, the National Network of Public Health Institutes, and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention to develop this comprehensive online certificate training.  

Access FBEA Training



Is your state or jurisdiction already part of NEARS? Check CDC’s participant map to find out. Participating in the National Environmental Assessment Reporting System (NEARS) can help prevent foodborne illness outbreaks associated with restaurants, banquet facilities, schools, and other institutions. NEARS is for state, local, tribal and territorial food safety programs. 

Participating programs can access and use their NEARS data at any time to 

  • Identify environmental causes of outbreaks in their jurisdiction
  • Take follow-up action to reduce or prevent future foodborne illness outbreaks
  • Evaluate their food safety programs and make improvements based on established guidelines
  • Develop or modify program policies or regulations
  • Focus limited program resources on actions with the highest impact

Request More Information


NEARS Webinars

NEHA has partnered with CDC’s Environmental Health Services Branch to help prevent foodborne illness outbreaks by promoting the value of NEARS and its benefits to food safety programs. During this webinar, you will be provided with a brief overview and background about NEARS, followed by success stories from two (Tennessee Department of Health and New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene) of the 23 agencies currently participating in NEARS. The target audience for this webinar is food safety programs interested in learning more about how NEARS can assist in preventing foodborne illness outbreaks in your jurisdiction by identifying and understanding environmental factors.

View NEARS Webinar



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