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Budget Constraints Delay Outbreak Investigation Centers

Lack of federal funds will likely postpone the creation of five centers proposed to improve foodborne illness outbreak investigations, CIDRAP News reported Tuesday.

Lisa Schnirring, staff writer for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) news service, explained that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lacks the estimated $2.75 million needed to establish the Food Safety Integrated Centers of Excellence this year.

The centers, mandated under the new Food Safety Modernization Act, were to be modeled on the close working relationship among the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, which has been credited for helping trace Salmonella outbreaks in 2009 to peppers and peanut butter.

The CDC will continue to prepare for the eventual creation of the centers, in case funding becomes available, and support various initiatives, such as developing outbreak training materials and standardized questionnaires for use in investigations. It will also work to update PulseNet, the national foodborne illness surveillance system.

CIDRAP quoted University of Minnesota School of Public Health food safety expert Craig Hedberg, PhD, who said the CDC’s decision was not surprising, given federal budget constraints, but “a great lost opportunity.”

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