BACKGROUND: As required by the Food Safety Modernization Act, in August 2012, CDC used a competitive grant process to designate five Integrated Food Safety Centers of Excellence (CoEs) headquartered in state health departments (Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Oregon and Tennessee) and partnered with one or more academic centers to serve as resources for other local, state, and federal public health professionals to respond to outbreaks of foodborne illness.
METHODS: CoE activities include:
- · Collaborate with frontline public health professionals to strengthen routine foodborne illness surveillance and outbreak investigations.
- · Evaluate and analyze the timeliness and effectiveness of foodborne illness surveillance and outbreak response activities.
- · Train local and state public health personnel in epidemiological and environmental investigation of foodborne illness, including timeliness, coordination, and standardization of the investigation process.
- · Establish fellowships, stipends and scholarships to train future epidemiology and food safety leaders in foodborne disease surveillance and outbreak investigation and to address critical workforce shortages.
- · Strengthen capacity to participate in existing or new foodborne illness surveillance and environmental assessment information systems.
- · Conduct program evaluation and outreach activities focused on increasing prevention, communication and education regarding food safety.
RESULTS: During this session CDC will moderate a CSTE panel of state health department CoE directors who will summarize activities of the CoEs to date and solicit feedback from CSTE members on how the Centers can provide assistance to other state and local health departments in enhancing foodborne outbreak surveillance and response activities.
CONCLUSIONS: CDC responded to Congress’s mandate to designate five Integrated Food Safety Centers of Excellence. The CoEs have received limited funding to begin to address some, but not all, of the required activities. CSTE member input is needed to determine how the CoEs can best meet the needs of state and local health departments, especially in the areas of: continuing education of existing staff, training of future employees, assessing and improving performance, and evaluating the effectiveness of interventions.