Conference for Food Protection

2018 Biennial Meeting

Issue View | Council I | 2018 Biennial Meeting

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Issue Number: Council I 027

Issue History

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Amend Food Code - Obtaining Purchase Info During Outbreak Investigations

Issue you would like the Conference to consider

Foodborne illness outbreak investigations may require the need to rapidly obtain case-patient purchase information to identify the potential food vehicles common to cases, support traceback, and prevent additional illnesses. The policy of some businesses requiring notarized or signed statements from identified case-patients before sharing a case-patient's shopper card purchase history information leads to delays or to the inability to obtain information. Immediate access to purchase information is needed to protect public health; and prompt identification of the causative vehicle may reduce business liability for additional illnesses.

Public Health Significance

Accurate food histories from case-patients are the key to solving foodborne outbreaks. Unfortunately, recollection of foods eaten can fade rapidly, sometimes necessitating an objective source of information regarding food exposures. Some outbreaks that persisted for months were solved only after obtaining shopper/loyalty card purchase information ( Speed and accuracy of information are essential in illness outbreak investigations because they allow public health officials to identify the suspect product, exonerate other suspected vehicles, and prevent additional illnesses. Rapid, effective public health action promotes confidence in the national food supply. As an additional incentive for industry, timely assistance with foodborne illness response and traceback can improve consumer trust in retail stores.

Recommended Solution: The Conference recommends...

that a letter be sent to the FDA requesting that the most current edition of the Food Code be amended to require that, in the case of a foodborne illness investigation, purchase information for case-patient customers, and as needed, for well persons serving as controls or to indicate background rates of purchases, be given as soon as possible to investigating agencies upon request, without the need for customer approval.

Submitter Information 1

Name Ernest Julian, Ph.D.
Organization Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response (CIFOR)
Address Rhode Island Department of Health
3 Capitol Hill, Room 203
Providence, RI 02908
Telephone 401-222-2749

Submitter Information 2

Name Genevieve Caron, MPH
Organization Rhode Island Department of Health
Address 3 Capitol Hill
Room 203
Providence, RI 02908
Telephone 401-222-2749

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