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September 2020: Direct From CDC/Environmental Health Services

Direct From CDC/Environmental Health Services Column

September 2020 Journal of Environmental Health (Volume 83, Number 2)

Editor's Note: NEHA strives to provide up-to-date and relevant information on environmental health and to build partnerships in the profession. In pursuit of these goals, we feature a column on environmental health services from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in every issue of the Journal.

In these columns, authors from CDC's Water, Food, and Environmental Health Services Branch, as well as guest authors, will share insights and information about environmental health programs, trends, issues, and resources. The conclusions of these columns are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of CDC.

Modernizing the Foodborne Outbreak Contributing Factors: The Key to Prevention

Beth Wittry, MPH, REHS, CP-FS, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

David Nicholas, MPH, New York State Department of Health


Foodborne outbreak investigations can be complex, involving investigators from epidemiology, environmental health, and laboratory disciplines. Typically, one role of environmental health investigators is identifying the conditions that enabled or amplified the outbreak. These contributing factors fall into three categories: contamination, proliferation, and survival. High quality data on outbreak contributing factors help identify food safety failures in the outbreak environment.

This month's column explores the recent revisions made to contributing factors list in order to provide better data from outbreak investigations. The revisions have improved and modernized the contributing factors, enabling investigators to identify contributing factors more easily during investigations. This progress will ultimately lead to higher quality foodborne outbreak and contributing factor data, prevention of future outbreaks, and improved food safety. CDC will ask state and local investigators to begin using the revised contributing factors list in 2021.

Read the September 2020 JEH Direct From CDC/Environmental Health Services Column in Full