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Environmental Health Specialists Network (EHS-Net) - Practice based research to improve food safety


EHS-Net Food Safety Project Summary/AbstractThe long-term objective of the proposed work is to reduce foodborne illness associatedwith commercial food establishments in Minnesota and the entire U.S. Specific aims areto: 1) increase and improve environmental assessments conducted during foodborneillness outbreak investigations; 2) identify contributing factors and antecedents factorsassociated with foodborne illness outbreaks; 3) identify and understand environmentalfactors associated with sporadic foodborne illness through special studies; 4) evaluatefood safety programs in Minnesota; 5) synthesize and disseminate the findings fromEHS-Net research projects to the environmental health community and the food serviceindustry; and, 6) develop, implement, and evaluate interventions at commercial foodestablishments that will reduce the incidence of foodborne illness.The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has been a leader and active participant inEHS-Net since its inception and proposes to continue EHS-Net involvement in the samefashion going forward. Environmental health specialists from the MDH Division ofEnvironmental Health and epidemiologists from the MDH Foodborne, Waterborne,Vectorborne, and Zoonotic Diseases Section will continue to comprise the MDH EHS-Net team and will work closely together to conduct EHS-Net activities. Activepopulation-based surveillance for reportable bacterial and protozoal pathogens will beconducted, along with state-of the art outbreak detection and investigation.Environmental assessments will be conducted on all foodborne outbreaks incommercial food establishments in Minnesota using standard tools to allow collection ofhigh quality data for the National Environmental Assessment Reporting System[NEARS]. Special studies to identify practices, behaviors, or other risk factors that leadto sporadic foodborne illness will be conducted at random samples of restaurants inpreviously selected sampling frameworks. Another proposed project is to surveyoperators to better understand how to effectively implement and evaluate interventionsat commercial food establishments. Additionally, we have proposed research looking atinspection reports preceding outbreak restaurants to determine if there are any trends inthe violations that are observed.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 studiesdecided on by the EHS-Net Steering Committee. Education of environmental healthspecialists and industry groups throughout Minnesota, based on lessons learned fromEHS-Net, will continue to be actively pursued.

Smith, Kirk
Tennessee State Department of Health
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