FDA develops food-borne illness outbreak team

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A full-time team at the Food and Drug Administration will respond to outbreaks of food-borne illness among humans and animals.

The FDA Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation Network, or CORE Network, will replace ad hoc teams that had been pulled from other duties within the agency to respond to such emergencies. Instead, the standing team will include veterinarians, epidemiologists, microbiologists, environmental health specialists, emergency coordinators, and risk communication specialists, most of whom were already FDA employees, according to Doug Karas, an FDA spokesman.

Karas said the team is intended to provide consistency and expertise during outbreaks. An agency announcement indicates the team members will also develop preventive systems to reduce the incidence of outbreaks, work with other FDA offices to standardize and strengthen food-borne illness outbreak activities, and work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Agriculture, and state and local agencies.

Kathleen F. Gensheimer, MD, former Maine state epidemiologist, was hired as the chief medical officer and outbreak director for the team.