Food Safety

FDA establishes foodborne illness outbreak response network

September 15, 2011
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The network aims at increased coordination using lessons learned.

The US Food and Drug Administration announced a streamlined, integrated approach to effectively and rapidly respond to human and animal foodborne illness outbreaks: the FDA Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) Network.

The CORE Network consists of a multi-disciplinary team of epidemiologists, veterinarians, microbiologists, environmental health specialists, emergency coordinators, and risk communications specialists. Working full-time on outbreak prevention and response at headquarters, CORE is complemented by trained, experienced investigators in FDA field offices nationwide. CORE will coordinate closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and state public health and agriculture agencies in human and animal foodborne illness outbreaks.

Dr. Kathleen F. Gensheimer, M.D., M.P.H., a nationally recognized public health leader who most recently was the state epidemiologist for Maine, serves in the new position of chief medical officer/outbreak director. In this capacity, she leads the CORE Network and has responsibility for all FDA preparedness, outbreak response and post-response activities.

“The CORE Network builds on the best practices FDA has already implemented in its outbreak response efforts,” says Mike Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner of foods.” And, in keeping with the reforms of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, CORE activities will learn from outbreaks to develop preventive systems in an effort to reduce them from happening in the future.”

“CORE will also allow for more consistency in monitoring and investigating outbreaks, as well as streamline decision making and improve food safety practices,” Taylor adds.

“The centralized staff of the CORE Network will work closely with FDA’s field emergency response coordinators and the investigative and analytical teams in the district offices and associated laboratories,” says Dara Corrigan, associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “Working together will help to both standardize and strengthen how we conduct foodborne outbreak activities in the field.”

“A real benefit of the network approach is enhancing communication and coordination with federal, state and local food safety agencies, as well as industry and consumers,” says Dr. Gensheimer. “Given my background at the state public health level, this is a major priority for me.”

“Our day-to-day working relationship with FDA has been a major focus by the senior leadership in both agencies,” says Christopher Braden, M.D., director, Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases at CDC. “We have built a solid foundation, and the CORE Network helps take us to the next level.”

For more information, visit the FDA CORE Network home page.

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