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Volume 21, Number 9—September 2015
Emerging Infections Program
Emerging Infections Program

Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network—2 Decades of Achievements, 1996–2015

Olga L. HenaoComments to Author , Timothy F. Jones, Duc Vugia, Patricia M. Griffin, and for the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) Workgroup
Author affiliations: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA (O.L. Henao, P.M. Griffin); Tennessee Department of Health, Nashville, Tennessee, USA (T.F. Jones); California Department of Public Health, Richmond, California, USA (D.J. Vugia)

Main Article


Major contributions of the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet), 1996–2015


Specific contribution

Example of impact

Reliable active population-based surveillance of enteric diseases

FoodNet publishes incidence data for the previous year every spring. Rich database has comprehensive epidemiology and laboratory information about sporadic infections

Regulatory agencies evaluate their prevention efforts and change policies as a result of FoodNet data. Industry food safety executives use FoodNet data to inform policies. FoodNet data has been used to describe the epidemiology of infections caused by pathogens transmitted commonly through food in 162 publications. (More information is available at

Epidemiologic studies that determine risk and protective factors for sporadic enteric infections

A case–control study of Listeria infections showed that infection was associated with eating melons.

Because of study results, cantaloupe was added to Listeria initiative questionnaire, and this addition helped to more quickly identify cantaloupes as the source in the 2011 outbreak.

Case–control studies of Campylobacter and Salmonella infections showed higher risk for infection among infants that had ridden in a shopping cart next to meat or poultry. As a result, some retail stores are now providing bags near the meat and poultry counters and are providing wipes for cleaning shopping carts.

Population and laboratory surveys that describe the features of gastrointestinal illnesses, medical care–seeking behavior, foods eaten, and laboratory practices

Estimates were made in 1999 and 2011 of the actual number of foodborne illnesses, including those not confirmed by a laboratory test.

The 2011 estimates were used to help determine the number of illnesses that could be attributed to each major food category. Regulatory agencies are using the latter estimates to guide prevention efforts.

Surveillance and research platform that can be adapted to address emerging issues

In 2008, as more clinical laboratories began adopting culture-independent diagnostic tests (CIDTs) for enteric pathogens, FoodNet responded by gathering data on enteric pathogens detected by these tests.

FoodNet worked with the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists to write a proposal to make Campylobacter infection diagnosed by either culture or CIDT a reportable condition nationwide. The proposal was approved in 2014, and reporting began in January 2015.

Main Article

Page created: August 12, 2015
Page updated: August 12, 2015
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The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.