Federal agencies to leverage foodborne outbreak expertise

FSIS and CDC recently signed a memorandum of understanding that will provide a more comprehensive approach to address foodborne health hazards.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention's (CDC) Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will provide a more comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach to address foodborne health hazards associated with meat, poultry and processed egg products.

The MOU is part of the "One Health" initiative, a concept that links the health of people, animals and the environment.

"The FSIS investigation process identifies health hazards in meat and poultry products, and this agreement leverages the expertise of personnel from (CDC and ATSDR) to complement that process," FSIS administrator Al Almanza said.

The MOU outlines mutual roles and responsibilities for the training of personnel and the planning of interagency assessment of FSIS-regulated establishments as part of foodborne illness investigations and health hazard evaluations. The MOU does not modify any existing interagency collaborative work, which includes illness cluster and outbreak investigations, USDA said.

"Our agencies work together on foodborne outbreak investigations to identify the source of illnesses and conduct epidemiologic studies. This memorandum will enhance opportunities for us to participate in assessments of FSIS-regulated establishments and other health hazards evaluations," Robin Ikeda, deputy director of CDC's Office of Noncommunicable Diseases, Injury & Environmental Health, said.

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