A partnership between Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and the University of Washington was selected as the nation’s newest Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence (CoE) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Each year, the CDC says about 48 million Americans are sickened by foodborne diseases; 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die. Improving food safety, outbreak response, and reducing the ongoing threat of foodborne illness is the focus of the Washington CoE, a joint venture between DOH and the UW School of Public Health.

Washington’s partnership was selected as one of five national CoE sites through a highly competitive process. It will serve WA, ID, NV, HI, AK, OR, CA as well as Guam.

“Department of Health has demonstrated excellence in the identification and investigation of foodborne illness and outbreaks. Together with expertise from our University of Washington academic partners, we will lead a regional effort to improve food safety and decrease foodborne illnesses,” said Scott Lindquist, state epidemiologist for DOH.

“We are delighted to partner with DOH on these efforts,” said Janet Baseman, associate dean for public health practice in the School of Public Health. “The new Washington CoE will serve as an important resource hub for state public health agencies across our region, and provides us the opportunity to support the public health workforce in implementation of best practices in epidemiological and environmental aspects of foodborne outbreaks.”

The Centers of Excellence, created in 2012 by the Food Safety Modernization Act, work to identify best practices in foodborne disease surveillance and outbreak response, and support other state and local public health professionals in implementing these practices.

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