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  1. Outbreaks of Foodborne Illness

Investigations of Foodborne Illness Outbreaks

 

Outbreaks of Foodborne Illness

Note: Not all recalls and alerts result in an outbreak of foodborne illness. Check recent Food Recalls and Safety Alerts.

The following is a list of outbreak and adverse event investigations primarily being managed by FDA’s CORE Response Teams. The investigations are in a variety of stages, meaning that some have limited information, while others may be near completion.

A public health advisory will be issued for investigations that have resulted in specific, actionable steps for consumers to take to protect themselves. Please direct your attention to those pages for the most up to date information on the investigation and for consumer protection information.

Outbreak and adverse event investigations that do not result in specific, actionable steps for consumers may or may not conclusively identify a source or reveal any contributing factors. Adverse event investigations rely on self-reported data. Although these reports may name a particular product, FDA will only indicate a product category in the table and will not publicly name a specific product until there is sufficient evidence to implicate that product as a cause of illnesses or adverse events. If a cause and/or contributing factors are identified that could inform future prevention, FDA commits to providing a summary of those findings.

What's New

  • For the outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 linked to raw cheddar cheese (ref #1215), FDA has initiated traceback. 
  • For the outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes linked to queso fresco and cotija cheese (ref #1214), the advisory has been updated to include additional recalls.
  • For the investigation of elevated lead & chromium levels in cinnamon applesauce pouches (ref #1198), the advisory has been updated.

Active Investigations

Date
Posted
Reference
#
Pathogen
or
Cause of
Illness
Product(s)
Linked to
Illnesses

(if any)
Total
Case
Count
Investigation
Status
Outbreak/
Event
Status
Recall
Initiated
Traceback
Initiated
On-Site
Inspection
Initiated
Sample
Collection
&
Analysis
Initiated
2/20/2024 1215 E. coli
O157:H7
Raw cheddar
cheese
See
Advisory
Active

Ongoing 

See
Advisory

See
Advisory
 
1/24/2024 1214 Listeria
monocytogenes
Queso Fresco
and
Cotija Cheese
See
Advisory
Active Ongoing
See
Advisory
See
Advisory
11/8/2023 1198 Elevated
Lead &
Chromium
Levels

Apple
Cinnamon
Puree

See
Advisory
Active Ongoing
See
Advisory
See
Advisory

Closed Investigations


Related Links

CDC Investigations

FSIS Investigations


Table Definitions

Date Posted: Date the investigation is posted to the table. This happens once CORE begins to actively coordinate an investigation. In collaboration with federal and state partners, CORE initiates response activities to control the outbreak or adverse events.

Reference Number: This number is assigned to incidents that CORE is working on. Each foodborne illness investigation on the table will have a unique reference number and this is provided to help users of this table differentiate between investigations. Those reference numbers beginning with an “E” have carried over from an older numbering system that will not be used by CORE in the future.

Pathogen or Cause of Illness: A bacterium, virus, other microorganism, toxin, or other contaminant that can cause disease.

Product(s) Linked to Illnesses (if any): During an outbreak or adverse event investigation, the FDA and CDC, along with state and local authorities collect and analyze three types of information: epidemiological information, laboratory analyses of food and/or samples taken from food production environments, and traceback investigation findings. Each outbreak or adverse event is unique and the information available to investigators varies from outbreak to outbreak – however, through rigorous analysis of the information collected, investigators are often able to identify a likely or confirmed food source of an outbreak or adverse events. It is important to note that before a specific food is linked to an outbreak or adverse events, the investigation of a commodity or a specific food by the FDA, CDC and state and local partners does not mean that the food is the cause of an outbreak or adverse events. In many cases the investigation is also looking to rule out specific foods even as it identifies the particular suspect. If there is evidence that a specific food is linked to illnesses, it will be reflected here and health authorities will warn the public about that food.

Total Case Count: Updated weekly. For outbreak investigations, the case count is provided to the FDA by the CDC. Case counts are dynamic and the exact number of illnesses constantly changes during an investigation. This number is provided in order to provide an estimate of the size of an outbreak each week. In the case of adverse event investigations, FDA will provide the number of adverse events that have been self-reported by consumers to FDA consumer complaint coordinators and the CFSAN Adverse Event Reporting System (CAERS), which could include duplicate reports. More formalized data will be published in CDC Investigation Notices or in FDA and CDC advisories, should they be posted.

Investigation Status: Communicates whether this outbreak is still under investigation by CORE or the investigational activities have ended. Options for this column would be either “Active” or “Closed”. At times an FDA investigation may be active after an outbreak has ended.

Outbreak/Event Status: Communicates whether this outbreak or series of adverse event reports is ongoing or has ended.

Recall Initiated: A recall occurs when a firm takes a product off the market because there is reason to believe that it may cause consumers to become ill. In some situations, FDA may request the company recall a potentially contaminated food. In other situations, FDA may issue a mandatory recall if there is a reasonable probability that the food is adulterated under certain FDA authorities, and that the food could cause serious illnesses or death.

Traceback Initiated: Used to identify the source and distribution of the implicated food and remove the contaminated product from the marketplace, to distinguish between two or more implicated food products, and to determine potential routes and/or sources of contamination in order to help prevent future illnesses. For additional information, see How the FDA Uses Traceback to Respond to Foodborne Illness Outbreaks.

On-site Inspection Initiated: Includes, among other things, a review of operational processes and samples are collected from food products or the environments where the food was grown, processed, transported or stored (countertops, equipment, bins etc.).

Collection & Analysis of Samples Initiated: collection and analysis of samples for the presence or absence of a pathogen in a food or in the environment surrounding the food.


Who to Contact if you Have Symptoms of Foodborne Illness

Consumers who have symptoms of foodborne illness should contact their health care provider to report their symptoms and receive care.

To report a complaint or adverse event (illness or serious allergic reaction), you have three choices:

Visit www.fda.gov/fcic for additional consumer and industry assistance.

 

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