CIFOR releases new guidelines for foodborne illness incidents

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack were pleased Wednesday by the Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response's new guidelines for how to respond to an incident of foodborne illness.

The new guidelines, titled "Foodborne Illness Response Guidelines or Owners, Operators and Managers of Food Establishemnts," give owners, operators and managers of food establishments a step-by-step guide on how to handle an outbreak of a foodborne illness. The new guidelines prepare leaders in the food sector to respond to an outbreak, identify potential outbreaks, provide guidelines for partnering with the appropriate authority to investigate the outbreak and aid with follow-up actions after an outbreak.

"When there is an outbreak of foodborne illness, the government and the food industry are of one mind," Sebelius said. "We have to find the cause and stop the outbreak. These guidelines and the continued work of CIFOR demonstrate key partnerships and our daily shared commitment to food safety and the health of consumers in the United States."

The guidelines keep all responsible parties aware of what to do in the event of an outbreak, including both leaders in the food industry and local government officials. The new guidelines are a result of collaborative efforts between many organizations, such as the National Restaurant Association, HHS's Food and Drug Administration, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"These CIFOR guidelines offer a clear pathway to success in industry's and government's efforts to ensure that the foods we produce and regulate are safe to eat," Vilsack said. "Both industry and government have a shared responsibility for the safety of our nation's food supply. By outlining and clarifying specific roles and responsibilities during each outbreak, we develop greater trust and accountability among stakeholders and consumers."