CDC launching new initiatives to fight food borne illness

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Approximately 48 million Americans are sickened by food every year.

More than 'half' of the illnesses reported come from restaurants or delis.

So now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are launching some new initiatives to fight back against food borne illnesses.

Until now, the CDC has gathered some data about food borne illnesses, like where the outbreak happened and from what food.

But starting in January 2014, they're going to ask states to report even more information so they can find out exactly why there was an outbreak.

There are two new initiatives.

The first is a free e-learning course to help health departments better investigate outbreaks and to educate food service workers and the public about the causes of food borne outbreaks.

The second is a brand new food safety surveillance system called the National Voluntary Environmental Assessment Information System (NVEAIS.)

States will use NVEAIS to report underlying factors of an outbreak.

Carol Selman, head of CDC's Environmental Health Specialists Network team at the National Center for Environmental Health, explained, "Why do those things happen? Why does someone not cook food to the right temperature? Why does a worker come in and work when they're ill? Those answers to those questions are what's going to help us push forward in protecting the health of the public."

Selman also said the most important message to get to workers to prevent illness is that workers should not come to work if they are experiencing symptoms of stomach flu. Fall and winter are the time of year when Norovirus activity picks up in Minnesota.

In Minnesota, over the past ten years, the Minnesota Department of Health has investigated an average of 53 confirmed food borne disease outbreaks annually. The last outbreak it investigated was this past November.

Doug Schultz, spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Health said the state has had its own reporting system like NVEAIS for a few years now.

Both Schultz and Selman said Minnesota experts were involved in helping the CDC create these new initiatives.

The Minnesota Department of Health also provides information onfood safety.


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