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Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance (FoodNet)

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Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) is a core component of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Emerging Infections Programs network (EIP), a collaboration between CDC, state health departments, and universities. (For foodborne disease outbreak reporting and investigation go tofoodborne outbreaks.)

FoodNet is an active laboratory and population-based surveillance system to monitor the incidence of foodborne diseases of local and national public health importance.

Objectives are to:

  • Determine the burden of foodborne illness
  • Monitor trends in the burden of specific foodborne illnesses over time
  • Attribute the burden of foodborne illness to specific foods and settings
  • Develop and assess interventions to reduce the burden of foodborne illness

FoodNet Ongoing Surveillance Activities

Surveillance Activities

Surveillance is conducted for eight bacterial and one parasitic pathogen:

Activities include:

  • Active laboratory-based surveillance for foodborne pathogens
    The core of FoodNet is population-based active surveillance of clinical laboratories in the participating sites. Clinical laboratories that test stool samples are contacted regularly to collect information on all of laboratory-confirmed cases of foodborne illness.
  • Survey of the population
    The population survey is conducted to precisely estimate the burden of acute diarrheal illness and to describe the frequency of important exposures.
  • Survey of clinical laboratory practices
    The periodic laboratory survey is conducted to determine which pathogens are included in routine bacterial stool cultures, which tests must be specifically requested by the physician, and which specific techniques are used to isolate the pathogens.
  • Survey of physicians
    The periodic survey is conducted to understand knowledge, attitudes and practices of physicians.
  • Disease attribution

FoodNet Data

Magnifying glass being used to examine a stack of charts and graphs


"Attribution" refers to attempts to assign illness caused by various enteric pathogens to specific food commodities. Such attribution may be done at several levels, including animal reservoirs (e.g., cattle), food-processing plants (e.g., slaughterhouses or packaging plants), retail foods (e.g., ground beef), or even specific foods eaten (e.g., tacos).

In an outbreak of foodborne disease, the specific food source may be learned with certainty. In the case of "sporadic" cases of foodborne illness, however, food sources cannot be attributed with certainty, but must be inferred. Such inferences may be based on various data sources, including types of pathogens found in various food animals, the foods implicated as causes of outbreaks, or even by asking experts what their best guesses are.

Below are links that highlight some of the efforts being made by FoodNet to attribute enteric illnesses to food sources and to offer links to efforts being made by other experts in foodborne illness.

CDC Data

Other Data


Food Safety Regulations

Articles of Interest

FoodNet Publications

stack of books

Oregon EIP Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network Publications

  • Post Diarrheal Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome in Persons Aged 65 and Older in FoodNet Sites
    2000-2006.J Am Geriatr Soc. 2011 Feb;59(2):366-8. Abstract
  • Laboratory Practices for the Identification of Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia Coli in the United States, FoodNet Sites, 2007
    Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2011 Apr;8(4):555-60. Epub 2010 Dec 27. Abstract
  • Antimicrobial and Antimotility Agent Use in Persons with Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia Coli O157 Infection in FoodNet Sites
    Clin Infect Dis. 2011 May;52(9):1130-2. Abstract
  • The Effect of Different Recall Periods on Estimates of Acute Gastroenteritis in the United States, FoodNet Population Survey 2006–2007
    Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2010 Oct;7(10):1225-8. Abstract
  • Risk Factors for Sporadic Shigellosis, FoodNet 2005
    FoodbornePathog Dis.2010 Jul;7(7):741-7. Abstract
  • Methods for Monitoring Trends in the Incidence of Foodborne Diseases: Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network 1996-2008
    Foodborne Pathog Dis.2010 Nov;7(11):1421-6. E pub 2010 Jul 9. Abstract
  • Application of Bayesian Techniques to Model the Burden of Human Salmonellosis Attributable to U.S. Food Commodities at the Point of Processing Adaptation of a Danish Model
    Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2011 Jan 16. [E pub ahead of print]. Abstract

See Also