Epi-Ready: Foodborne Illness Response Strategies


Course Overview


Course Quality Rating

Course Description
This course will identify roles, responsibilities, and legal requirements associated with a foodborne illness investigation. The foodborne illness investigation is composed of three arenas: Laboratory, Epidemiology and Environment. This course will take you through passive surveillance, outbreak determination and outbreak and epidemiologic investigation, laboratory guidance and concluding actions of an investigation. At the end of each module, the individual team member roles from the three arenas will be addressed.

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Target Audience
Public health professionals seeking to further knowledge in foodborne illness investigation.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this course, the learner will be able to:
Module 1: Introduction
Module 2: Passive Surveillance

  • Define “active” and “passive” surveillance systems.
  • Identify potential sources of surveillance data.
  • Name components of a successful surveillance system.
  • Identify forms used to document foodborne illness.
  • Refer complaints to appropriate individual and/or agency.
  • Describe the elements included on an ongoing log of foodborne illness complaints.
  • Define outbreak.
  • List important items of passive surveillance data to review.
  • List reasons whether or not to investigate complaints further.

Module 3: Outbreak Determination

  • List steps needed to prepare for an investigation.
  • Describe actions needed to verify the diagnosis.
  • Identify means for searching for additional cases.
  • List three phases of interviewing.
  • List steps for obtaining a case history.
  • Describe methods for overcoming barriers to interviewing.
  • Describe methods to ensure consistency of interview data.
  • Identify epidemiologic associations.
  • Determine if an outbreak has occurred.


Module 4: Environmental Assessment

  • Describe/distinguish the difference between plan review / HACCP inspection, routine inspection, and environmental assessment (which would include interview and verification).
  • Describe methods for overcoming barriers to on-site data gathering.
  • List the contributing factors typically associated with foodborne illness.
  • Describe the necessary steps to be covered in the environmental assessment (including steps in pre-visit planning and on-site data gathering).
  • Identify the importance of Contamination, Survival, Growth and Destruction (CSGD).
  • Describe the importance of maintaining key information for the final report.


Module 5: Epidemiologic Investigation

  • Develop a case definition.
  • Draw an epidemic curve.
  • Develop an initial hypothesis.
  • List three types of study design and a method of statistical analysis.
  • Calculate measures of association.
  • Interpret significance of data.
  • Determine if hypotheses are confirmed or rejected.


Module 6: Laboratory Guidance

  • Determine criteria for testing
  • List key items found in a sample kit
  • Describe the collection of food samples
  • Name the reason for using a chain of custody document
  • Describe the collection of clinical specimens from cases


Module 7: Concluding Actions

  • Describe the need to inform the public
  • Identify control strategies that need to be implemented
  • Document the results of the outbreak investigation
  • Describe means for using investigative data for prevention
  • Explain the importance of an after action group review to improve coordination and action in the future


Council of Linkages Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals (COL)/COL Tier(s)

  1. 2.3: Report information potentially relevant to the identification and control of an emergency through the chain of
  2. Command.
  3. 2.4: Collect data according to protocol.
  4. 2.5: Manage the recording and/or transcription of data according to protocol.


Professional/Disciplinary Competencies
None listed

Online/ Self-study

Credit /CEU
None available

5 hrs.

None listed

Course Publication Date
None listed