November 21, 2020

FDA Launches Outbreak Investigation Table Triggering Questions

The FDA has just released a new outbreak investigation table to honor its promise for transparency to keep the public informed about food poisoning outbreaks. But the table is raising some questions. The table lists the pathogen responsible for each outbreak, total case count, investigation status, outbreak status, and whether a recall was initiated.

FDA Launches Outbreak Investigation Table Triggering Questions

If the outbreak doesn’t result in “specific, actionable steps for consumers” the government may not identify a source or reveal contributing factors. And that is confusing.

These outbreak investigations are managed by FDA’s CORE Response Teams. The FDA will still issue public health advisories for investigations that have resulted in actionable steps.

The table lists the three mystery E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks identified this month that may be associated with romaine lettuce. Those outbreaks are linked to the FDA and CDC Investigation Notices. The table also lists the Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak that was linked to peaches. And the Salmonella Paratyphi outbreak linked to Nekter juice bar in Woodbury, Minnesota is another listed.

But there are two Salmonella outbreaks that are not identified that are still actively being investigated, although one has ended. The outbreak that has ended was caused by Salmonella Newport, with 78 illnesses; another that is still ongoing, caused by Salmonella Thompson, has sickened 33 people.

A Salmonella Newport outbreak linked to red onions just ended, but the case count in that outbreak was 1,127. There has not been a multistate Salmonella Thompson outbreak in the U.S. since the kratom outbreak in 2018, an outbreak linked to coconut in 2018, and the papaya outbreak in 2017.

The only thing consumers can do is to pay attention to recall notices, especially for pathogens, and to make sure that they know when outbreaks are announced. State health departments will announce outbreaks within their borders, while multistate outbreaks are announced by the CDC, FDA, or USDA. And continue to follow food safety advice when preparing food, and make sure that you know the symptoms of food poisoning.

Pritzker Hageman Food Safety Lawyers

If you or a loved one have been sickened with a food poisoning infection, please contact our experienced attorneys for help at 1-888-377-8900 or 612-338-0202.

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