September 2020 JEH: Direct From CDC/Environmental Health Services
September 2020 Journal of Environmental Health (Volume 83, Number 2)
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.