FDA: FDA Releases New Outbreak Investigation Table. “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is committed to transparency and keeping the public and stakeholders informed of our work upholding the safety of our food supply. As part of this continued commitment, today we are releasing a new tool to communicate foodborne illness outbreak information frequently and as soon as the FDA begins an outbreak investigation – prior to a public health advisory or recall of a certain food product being issued.”
The Straits Times: Scientists to develop global microorganism DNA database to tackle foodborne diseases. “Just like the genetic databases used by police to nab offenders who leave their DNA at the crime scene, experts in foodborne disease are setting up a global data bank which will help them identify, track and treat outbreaks fast. The effort will see laboratories and clinics around the world sharing the DNA of various strains of diseases (including foodborne diseases), and promises to transform the way food poisoning cases are contained.”
WFMY: Researchers Developing App To Detect Food-borne Germs. “Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are using artificial intelligence in an effort to to create a system that would give consumers control when it comes to avoiding dangerous food-borne illnesses. It could one day enable you to scan lettuce for E.coli, detect lead in water and even determine whether the alcohol you’re drinking on vacation is tainted.”
AAFP: New Online Tool Lets FPs Review Data on Disease Outbreaks . “The CDC has unveiled a new online data tool(wwwn.cdc.gov) that allows users to search through almost two decades of information collected on various types of enteric disease outbreaks in the United States. The so-called NORS Dashboard, launched March 12, provides family physicians and other interested parties with expanded access to disease outbreak data from the National Outbreak Reporting System.” The lead paragraph doesn’t make it clear, but it appears that the information system is available to everybody.
EurekAlert: Incorporating social media reviews can improve surveillance of restaurant health problems. “A recent paper published in JAMIA, Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, illustrates the success of an improved system that tracks foodborne illness via online Yelp restaurant reviews developed by the Columbia University Department of Computer Science. Since 2012 this system has been used by the New York City (NYC) Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to identify instances of foodborne illness in NYC restaurants.”
DNAInfo Chicago: Is Your Favorite Restaurant Making You Sick? Site Tracks Foodborne Illness. “Dining Grades converts data from public health inspection scores into a letter grade system. Users can view restaurants and their safety records on a searchable map. Because food inspection rating systems differ across state lines, Dr. Harlan Stueven said he wanted to create a consistent rating scheme using pure, unbiased data.” Does not have all cities yet and is at this writing running a bit slowly.
Recently-launched: a Web site focusing on open sourcing food safety plans. “Starting a new food business or processing venture can be daunting, especially considering the proprietary nature of food safety plans and research results necessary to making our food system safe. The goal of the Open Source Food Safety Initiative is to make food safety information available to everyone. Building on concepts first developed by the Open Source Software movement, we aim to make food safety plans and information freely shareable, modifiable, and usable. This website is designed to serve as a forum for sharing, discussing, and collaborating on food safety information.”
Researchers in India have developed a database of worms. “Rather cumbersomely called the Northeast India Helminth Parasite Information Database, or NEIHPID, it has exhaustive information on worm parasites of the northeast that are also widely found in South and Southeast Asia, regions with similar dietary habits.”