The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), released today a nationwide report card grading the 50 states and the District of Columbia on how well they detect, investigate, and report outbreaks of foodborne illness. The report shows that there is some room for improvement. CSPI assigned a letter grade and created an outbreak profile for each state.
A’s: Oregon, Minnesota, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Washington, and Wyoming.
B’s: Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Ohio, and Vermont.
C’s: Alabama, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
D’s: Delaware, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia.
F’s: Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia.
Now, let’s look at resources to get every State and D.C. to an A. (See Report)
Perhaps the answer to the low grades may lie in Sec. 205 in the recently passed Food Safety Act signed by President Obama. The Section would:
– coordinate Federal, State and local systems, including complaint systems and networks of public health, food regulatory agencies and labs;
– facilitate sharing of findings between FDA, USDA, State and local agencies, and the public;
– develop improved epidemiological tools;
– improve systems that attribute an outbreak to a specific food;
– expand fingerprinting and other detection strategies for food-borne agents;
– allow public access to aggregated, de-identified surveillance data;
– publish findings at least yearly;
– rapidly initiate scientific research by academic institutions;
– integrate surveillance systems and data with other biosurveillance and public health entities.
Also, is the creation of “PARTNERSHIPS,” which appears to actually be a “working group of experts and stakeholders from Federal, State and local food safety and health agencies, the food industry, consumer organizations and academia.” In addition, Sec. 205 (c) adds “strengthen[ing] the capacity of State and local agencies to carry out inspections and enforce safety standards” and, “the Secretary to (within a year) complete a review of State and local capacities, including staffing levels, laboratory capacity, outbreak response, inspection and enforcement functions.”