For those who want or need to look back at foodborne outbreak data, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a useful tool. It’s called the Foodborne Outbreak Online Database Tool (FOOD Tool) and, on Tuesday, the agency revealed a shiny new version. Originally developed in 2009, the FOOD Tool includes both single and multistate foodborne outbreak data reported to CDC from 1998 to 2014. It originally only let users sift through the data by state, where the food was consumed, and the pathogen responsible. In addition to the ability to search by food item or ingredient, the updated tool now includes interactive maps and graphs. Users looking for the more traditional table of data can still access it in the Tabular View. FOODtool_700 FOOD Tool’s data come from CDC’s Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System (FDOSS), which captures information on foodborne outbreaks caused by enteric bacterial, viral, parasitic, and chemical agents reported by state, local, and territorial public health agencies. CDC analyzes the data (more detailed than what are presented in the public tool) to understand the impact of foodborne outbreaks and the causes or contributing factors, such as food kept at room temperature for too long. CDC states that the database is for reporters and members of the public to understand the history of recent or ongoing outbreaks of foodborne illness. But it’s important to remember that health departments can modify their reports at any time, even months or years after an outbreak, and that some outbreaks are never reported to CDC. To learn more about the database, visit CDC’s FAQ page.

The previous look of CDC’s FOOD Tool, with help from the Wayback Machine.
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