WASHINGTON – The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) developed a plan to enhance the speed, effectiveness, coordination, and communication of investigations into foodborne illness outbreaks. The Foodborne Outbreak Response Improvement Plan draws from an independent review of FDA’s structural and functional capacity to support, participate in, or lead multistate outbreak investigations.

The agency’s ultimate goal is to “bend the curve of foodborne illness.”

“While progress has been made, we need faster and more streamlined investigations to identify and remove contaminated food from the market, and more effective investigations to identify deficiencies in the food system to help prevent similar outbreaks in the future,” the agency said. “These are serious concerns that we must address.”

Major milestones the agency has committed to achieve include:

  • Reducing the time needed to identify and trace contaminated products
  • Gathering and sharing critical findings and recommendations to prevent future outbreaks more quickly and fully
  • More quickly identifying the source of an outbreak and provide earlier and more open communications with government partners, industry, and the public
  • Measuring FDA operational improvements

FDA said stakeholders will receive updates on the agency’s progress at various points in the process and solicit stakeholders for ideas and feedback. The agency will publish an annual report detailing FDA’s progress made on specific goals identified in the plan.

In addition, FDA plans to hold a stakeholder webinar in early 2022 to describe the plan and answer questions. The agency will post updates to the fda.gov website as major milestones are met.

“Continued investments throughout the FDA and the food safety system will be critical to modernizing and strengthening our response to foodborne outbreaks, as well as to accomplishing the goals stated in this plan,” the agency said. “We commit to streamline and expedite our outbreak response, to leverage digital data, to use more sophisticated analytical methods, to work hand-in-hand with our government, industry, and consumer partners, to learn from past outbreaks, and to communicate necessary information, in a timely and effective manner, to help prevent future outbreaks. We are resolute in our commitment and in our belief that this will help achieve our ultimate goal of bending the curve of foodborne illness in the United States.”