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Environmental Health Specialist Network


The long-term objective of the proposed work is to reduce foodborne illness associated with commercial food establishments in Minnesota and the entire U.S. Specific aims are to: 1) increase and improve environmental assessments conducted during foodborne illness outbreak investigations; 2) identify contributing factors and antecedents factors associated with foodborne illness outbreaks; 3) identify and understand environmental factors associated with sporadic foodborne illness through special studies; 4) evaluate food safety programs in Minnesota; 5) synthesize and disseminate the findings from EHS-Net research projects to the environmental health community and the food service industry; and, 6) develop, implement, and evaluate interventions at commercial food establishments that will reduce the incidence of foodborne illness. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has been a leader and active participant in EHS-Net since its inception and proposes to continue EHS-Net involvement in the same fashion going forward. Environmental health specialists from the MDH Division of Environmental Health and epidemiologists from the MDH Foodborne, Waterborne, Vector borne, and Zoonotic Diseases Section will continue to comprise the MDH EHS- Net team and will work closely together to conduct EHS-Net activities. Active population-based surveillance for reportable bacterial and protozoal pathogens will be conducted, along with state-of the art outbreak detection and investigation. Environmental assessments will be conducted on all foodborne outbreaks in commercial food establishments in Minnesota using standard tools to allow collection of high quality data for the National Voluntary Environmental Assessment Information System [NVEAIS]. Special studies to identify practices, behaviors, or other risk factors that lead to sporadic foodborne illness will be conducted at random samples of restaurants in previously selected sampling frameworks. Another proposed project is to synthesize all previous EHS-Network and disseminate it to target audiences in an effective format. Finally, a major part of our proposed ongoing work will be to use data and lessons learned from past EHS-Net activities to develop, implement, and evaluate interventions at commercial food establishments. MDH will continue to build communication and collaborations with EHS-Net partners (other states, CDC, FDA, and EPA) and will actively participate in multi-site studies decided on by the EHS-Net Steering Committee. Education of environmental health specialists and industry groups throughout Minnesota, based on lessons learned from EHS-Net, will continue to be actively pursued.

Minnesota Department of Health
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