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Americas: CDC releases tool on foodborne disease outbreaks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a redesigned online tool for users to search data on foodborne disease outbreaks more easily.

The updated Foodborne Outbreak Online Database Tool (FOOD Tool) contains nearly 20 years of outbreak data by state, food, or germ.

Originally developed in 2009, the FOOD Tool includes national foodborne outbreak data reported to CDC from 1998 to 2014.

New interactive features such as maps, graphs, and tables now allow users to search by specific foods and ingredients, view a ‘quick stats’ display, and get case counts for multistate outbreaks.

The FOOD Tool lets users search foodborne disease data by year, state, location of food preparation, food and ingredient, and cause.

It provides information on numbers of illnesses, hospitalizations, deaths, the germ, and the cause—confirmed or suspected.

FOOD Tool’s data come from CDC’s Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System, which captures information on foodborne outbreaks caused by enteric (intestinal) bacterial, viral, parasitic, and chemical agents reported by state, local, and territorial public health agencies.

CDC analyzes these data to understand the impact of foodborne outbreaks and the causes, foods, settings, and contributing factors (for example, food kept at room temperature for too long) involved in outbreaks.

An estimated one in six Americans gets sick from foodborne illness every year.

Tracking and reporting outbreak information is critical to understanding how foodborne illness affects America’s health.

During an outbreak, public health investigators can use the database to help point them toward possible contaminated food sources by searching foods, and the germs, implicated in past outbreaks.