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17 Months and 634 Illnesses Later, CDC Declares Foster Farms-Linked Salmonella Outbreak Over

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Seventeen months since the first illnesses appeared in March 2013, the Foster Farms-linked Salmonella outbreak has been declared over by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The final tally of confirmed illnesses came in at 634 people in 29 states and Puerto Rico. Of those cases, at least 241 people (38 percent) were… Continue Reading

Whole-Genome Sequencing Expected to Revolutionize Outbreak Investigations


For decades, food safety experts have lived with the reality that roughly one-third of foodborne illness outbreak investigations ended without finding the source. But with the wide proliferation of new laboratory technology on the horizon, outbreak investigations could soon become more accurate, more efficient and more complete, according to researchers at Cornell University, the New… Continue Reading

Publisher’s Platform: How to Break a Foodborne Illness Story


Daily, weekly, monthly and yearly, people get sick from eating food. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that at least 48 million of us get sick each year, with 125,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Many of those sickened are the “canaries in the coal mine” – people who are the first to… Continue Reading

Social Media Apps Use Twitter to Track Illness Outbreaks


The opportunity to use social media platforms to report and track foodborne illnesses is becoming increasingly feasible as more and more people use social media to discuss the ins and outs of daily life. In April, a few volunteer developers in Chicago launched an app called Foodborne Chicago, which aims to facilitate a connection between… Continue Reading

The Challenges and Advantages of Farm-to-Fork Traceability


Take a moment to consider some of the foods found in a supermarket: eggs, tomatoes, coffee — maybe even chocolate chip peppermint brownie ice cream. Now, try to imagine all the steps and processes that food went through to get all the way to those shelves. While the ice cream likely went through more processes… Continue Reading

Public Health: Are We Too Slow?



This article was co-authored by Dr. Kathleen Vidoloff, Emergency Risk Communication Officer for Oregon Public Health Division, and Dr. Jean O’Connor, former Oregon Deputy Public Health Director. One of the many roles of public health is to protect consumers from threats like foodborne outbreaks. Much of this hinges on quickly getting out clear messages to… Continue Reading

Hawaii E. coli Outbreak Offers Lesson on Challenges of Epidemiology


More than a month after the Hawaii State Department of Health announced an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 on the island of Oahu, epidemiologists at the agency say they still hope to determine the source of the outbreak, though they acknowledge the likelihood grows slimmer as time goes on. But ending an outbreak investigation without… Continue Reading

Longhorn Steakhouse in OH Linked to E. coli Illnesses


At least five people fell ill with E. coli O157:H7 after eating at a Longhorn Steakhouse in Green Township, Ohio, in December. Health investigators were not able to definitively determine the source of the outbreak, but suspect leafy greens served at the restaurant, said Mike Samet, public information officer for Hamilton County Public Health. Patients… Continue Reading

Can Social Media Enhance Food Safety?



Consider the following hypothetical scenario: Working together, a public health authority, a health management organization and some major food processors have set up a non-profit food safety monitoring center. This center has created a website that invites members of the public to report possible food-related illnesses, and has widely distributed a free smartphone app for… Continue Reading

Publisher’s Platform: Leafy Green Cone of Silence



Over the years, we have investigated and pieced together several leafy green outbreaks that are never publicly announced despite being the cause of severe illness.  Here is an outbreak from 2009 that should have prompted a multi-state public health warning and recall, but was instead quietly put under the “leafy green cone of silence” as… Continue Reading