Foodborne illness is a serious public health issue that can cause acute life-threatening complications. However, many researchers believe that the burden of long-term health outcomes outweighs the burden of the acute foodborne disease. Yet, there is little epidemiologic data on the long-term health outcomes associated with acute foodborne disease. Therefore, CFI has been focusing many of its research efforts on improving our understanding of the long-term burden and costs associated with foodborne illness. Our efforts are summarized below.
In 2009, the Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention (CFI) published The Long-Term Health Outcomes of Selected Foodborne Pathogens, a summary of what is currently known about the long-term health effects of Campylobacter, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella and Toxoplasma gondii. Some of the long term health problems that may be attributable to incidences of these diseases include gastroenteritis, rheumatologic symptoms, irritable bowel symptoms, as well as the better understood kidney and brain damage that can result from some foodborne illnesses. In the report, CFI concludes that systematic follow-up of foodborne illness cases, through improved public health surveillance and population-based epidemiologic studies, would greatly enhance knowledge in the United States and worldwide about the long-term health problems associated with acute foodborne illness.
The Consulting Authors on this white paper were: Martin J. Blaser, M.D., J.K. Frenkel, M.D., Bennett Lorber, M.D., James Smith, Ph.D., and Phillip I. Tarr, M.D. Reviewers were Pina Fratamico, Ph.D., and Craig Hedberg, Ph.D. The authors for CFI were Tanya Roberts, Ph.D., Barbara Kowalcyk, Ph.D. and Patricia Buck, M.S.
In August 2010, CFI was awarded a $200,000 grant to examine the best mechanisms for studying the long-term health consequences of foodborne illness. This feasibility study will expand on CFI’s work in 2009 and is being overseen by a distinguished panel of experts (see below). The objectives of this study will be to: 1) review the literature on current research and identify knowledge gaps about the long-term effects of acute foodborne illness; 2) explore and analyze the different models for public health registries within the United States and Europe; and 3) develop a white paper to disseminate findings to the broader public health community.
This study will be on-going during 2010/11, and CFI hopes to continue more advanced work on this important topic next year as well. The grant is being funded through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Ms.Barbara Kowalcyk is the principal investigator on the project.
Steering Committee members:
Patricia Griffin, M.D.
Chief, Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Atlanta, GA
James Hadler, M.D., M.P.H.
Professor, Yale School of Public Health
Former State Epidemiologist, Connecticut State Health Department, New Haven, CT
Craig Hedberg, Ph.D.
Professor, University of Minnesota
School of Public Health, Division of Environmental Health Sciences, Minneapolis, MN
Tim Jones, M.D.
Tennessee Department of Health, Nashville, TN
Susan Pinney, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Health
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH
Richard Siegler, M.D.
Department of Pediatrics
University of Utah School of Medicine, Davis, CA
Barbara Kowalcyk, Ph.D.
CFI Director of Food Safety
Patricia Buck, M.A., M.S.
CFI Executive Director
Tanya Roberts, Ph.D.
CFI Chair, Board of Directors
Retired from U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service
Patti Waller, MPH (Epidemiologist)
CFI Board Director
Employed by MarlerClark, LLP, Seattle, WA