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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 to
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 is conducted for eight bacterial and one parasitic pathogen:
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.
"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.
Food Safety Regulations
Articles of Interest
CDC Annual Summaries of Foodborne Outbreaks
Attribution of Foodborne Illnesses, Hospitalizations, and Deaths to Food Commodities by using Outbreak Data, United States, 1998–2008 (CDC, Emerging Infectious Diseases, March 2013)
Application of Foodborne Pathog Dis 2011 April 8(4) Bayesian Model for Salmonellosis Attribution (pdf)
Marked Campylobacteriosis Decline After Interventions Aimed at Poultry, New Zealand
The 10 Pathogen-Food Combinations with the Greatest Burden on Public Health, 2011
National Academy of Sciences. Letter Report on the Review of the Food Safety and Inspection Service Proposed Risk-Based Approach to and Application of Public-Health Attribution, 2009
Attributions Bibliography (pdf)
Batz MB, Doyle MP, Morris G, Jr., et al. Attributing illness to food. Emerg Infect Dis 2005;11:993-9
Adak GK, Meakins SM, Yip H, Lopman BA, O'Brien SJ. Disease risks from foods, England and Wales, 1996-2000. Emerg Infect Dis 2005;11:365-72
CDC. Multistate surveillance for food-handling, preparation, and consumption behaviors associated with foodborne diseases: 1995 and 1996 BRFSS food-safety questions (pdf)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Risk Factors for Sporadic Shigellosis, FoodNet 2005
FoodbornePathog Dis.2010 Jul;7(7):741-7.
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.
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 Podel
Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2011 Jan 16. [E pub ahead of print].