In the next version of my life I want to be a CDC EIS officer chasing foodborne diseases in the footsteps of many of my heroes in the past and in the present who I have gotten to know since the Jack-in-the-Box E. coli Outbreak of 1993.
Being an Epi-wannabe, I do tend to look forward to my Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports and articles in Emerging Infectious Diseases. A recent “novel” article caught my eye today – “Novel Outbreak-Associated Food Vehicles, United States” – here is the abstract – it is well worth the read:
Novel outbreak-associated food vehicles (i.e., foods not implicated in past outbreaks) can emerge as a result of evolving pathogens and changing consumption trends. To identify these foods, we examined data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System and found 14,216 reported outbreaks with information on implicated foods. We compared foods implicated in outbreaks during 2007–2016 with those implicated in outbreaks during 1973–2006. We identified 28 novel food vehicles, of which the most common types were fish, nuts, fruits, and vegetables; one third were imported. Compared with other outbreaks, those associated with novel food vehicles were more likely to involve illnesses in multiple states and food recalls and were larger in terms of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Two thirds of novel foods did not require cooking after purchase. Prevention efforts targeting novel foods cannot rely solely on consumer education but require industry preventive measures.
We then conducted a secondary check of additional sources for all foods initially identified as novel (PubMed, online forums [e.g., Food Safety News, Food Poison Journal, and MarlerClark], and media reports). This check served to identify false-positive results from 2 scenarios: 1) the food had been implicated in an outbreak during 1973–2006, but the outbreak had not been reported to FDOSS; or 2) the food had been reported as part of an outbreak occurring during 1973–2006 with a more generic term. We reclassified foods only if the available information was sufficient to follow our criteria (i.e., there were >2 confirmed cases and an identified implicated food).