Lessons to Be Learned from the 2008 Salmonella Saintpaul Outbreak

Lessons to Be Learned from the 2008 Salmonella Saintpaul Outbreak

QUICK SUMMARY

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak of 2008 officially over on August 28, 2008, some three months after it began. During that time, more than 1,400 persons were reported infected, and if, as suggested by research, this represents an underreporting, the outbreak may have sickened thousands of Americans. Given the human, economic and public-health costs of this recent food borne-illness outbreak, therefore, it is critical to learn from it. This report represents the first extensive and in-depth review of the public record of the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak. In doing so, three areas of concern have surfaced: policy, the public-health system's organization and outbreak response, and its communications with the media and the public.

 

Given the human, economic and public-health costs of this recent food borne-illness outbreak, therefore, it is critical to learn from it. In fact, members of Congress and representatives from the produce industry have called for post-mortem investigations of the outbreak, and senior FDA officials have promised a thorough and transparent accounting of the public-health system's response. This report represents the first extensive and in-depth review of the public record of the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak.  In conducting this review, the Produce Safety Project (PSP), an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts at Georgetown University, has attempted to frame questions that will be critical for any post-mortem analysis to consider and to identify issues that should be addressed.  In doing so, three areas of concern have surfaced:  policy, the public-health system's organization and outbreak response, and its communications with the media and the public.

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