The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is announcing the release of two new webpages focusing on supporting local and state agencies responding to foodborne illness outbreaks. Both pages are designed to advance communication between public health professionals and FSIS when addressing foodborne illness investigations involving FSIS-regulated products.
The first webpage provides a contact listing for various FSIS staff and departments categorized by their area of expertise. This resource aims to provide immediate access to a FSIS staff person or team who can provide inquiry-specific support on topics related to foodborne illness investigations (e.g. laboratory analysis, food recalls, consumer complaints, etc.) The second webpage serves as a guide informing public health officials on which particular data points and other information they should provide to FSIS during an investigation. The specific type of content and format identified as the most useful by FSIS is listed by category (e.g. details of suspect food products, environmental assessments, sample collection of suspect food products, etc.)
Outbreak investigations usually begin with local or state authorities collecting information from case-patients about their symptoms and foods that could possibly be linked to the illness. These webpages aim to support the next stage of the process by providing immediate access to the national resources essential to containing and preventing widespread foodborne illness.