Thursday, July 02, 2009

Team Diarrhea to the Rescue!

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar introduced the Food Safety Rapid Response Act of 2009, S 1269. The bill is intended to enhance foodborne illness surveillance and improve food safety by through more rapid and coordinated response to foodborne disease outbreaks. The bill would direct the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to promote best practices for foodborne illness surveillance and improve the surveillance capacities of the states.

Like the Emperor’s New Clothes, no one wants to talk about the lack of capacity at many state and local health departments. However, this is not just a state and local issue. Our federal food safety system stands (or falls) on the shoulders of the ability and capacity of the states.

Contrast a few states, like Minnesota, known for fine foodborne disease surveillance. Minnesota has a group of investigators, known as Team Diarrhea, that race into action when there is a suspected foodborne disease outbreak. Minnesota was the first to trace the source of the recent Salmonella disease outbreak to peanut butter from Georgia. Essentially, our federal food safety system depended on people in Minnesota getting sick or dying to detect a national food safety problem that started in Georgia?

S 1269 would help create a more rapid and coordinated response to foodborne illness outbreaks. The bill could possibly lead to the institution of Team Diarrhea nationally.

Senator Klobuchar’s press release.

Hat tip to Cynthia Dizikes in