The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued the Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) Investigation Table. This new tool will share information on FDA foodborne illness outbreak investigations, even in their early stages and as soon as the FDA begins its response to the outbreak. It will give consumers early awareness of developing multistate outbreaks that are occurring across the United States.
Outbreak investigations go through several stages. Some outbreak investigations will uncover enough information to develop specific recommendations for consumers, retailers, and industry. Others yield limited information throughout the investigation and detailed advice for consumers cannot be developed. For the former, we have processes and tools laid out to communicate about these investigations. Currently, a public health advisory is issued for outbreak investigations that have resulted in specific, actionable steps for consumers to take to protect themselves. This will remain the same.
The FDA’s CORE Network will use this Investigation Table to communicate about outbreaks from beginning to end through weekly updates. It will include all outbreaks for which a CORE Response Team is coordinating an active investigation. This table will be rolled out as a 6-month pilot, during which the Agency is interested in receiving feedback and after which the FDA may adjust the table, if needed.
This will also align with CDC efforts to provide information on the number of illness clusters they are investigating each week. This table will be a steppingstone to help the public move from having little knowledge of an outbreak, through each stage of the investigation, and in the best-case scenarios, investigating agencies can provide detailed, actionable advice. As the investigations evolve, so will the communications about those investigations.
The FDA’s table will include the following information:
- Date Posted on the table–when it has been determined that the outbreak may involve an FDA-regulated food
- Reference Number–FDA assigned number used to identify an outbreak for reference by stakeholders
- Product(s) Linked to Illnesses–if any
- Case Count
- Investigation Status
- Outbreak Status
- Recall Initiated
- Traceback Initiated
- On-Site Inspection Initiated
- Collection and Analysis of Sampling
Although the FDA does not have all the information in the early phase of these investigations, this new outbreak information is being shared early and will continue to be updated weekly as a demonstration of the FDA commitment to more real-time and transparent communication with stakeholders and consumers about outbreaks we’re investigating. This follows up on steps already taken to release information early, in some cases prior to a specific food being linked to an outbreak, including in recent communications on investigations into three ongoing E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks.