Purpose: This study gathered information to describe how CoEs address capacity limitations by serving as resources for local, state, and federal public health professionals to reduce the burden of foodborn disease.
Methods: Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, and Tennessee were chosen as CoEs through a competitive review process. Using their unique health department/academic institution partnerships, CoEs provide peer support by using needs assessment results to develop educational materials, deliver trainings, and provide consultation services. Activities of the CoEs include: strengthening surveillance and outbreak investigation; analyzing the timeliness and effectiveness of responses; training public health staff in proven investigation and surveillance techniques; educating the future food safety workforce; improving capacity of information systems; and evaluating and communicating best practices.
Results: CoEs have developed over 100 online products on a variety of topics that are available for free, immediate use. Collectively, CoE training videos have been viewed over 50,000 times on YouTube. CoEs have provided one-on-one assistance to a number of state and local health departments, including 18 states funded under the CDC OutbreakNet Enhanced Program. Capacity has been created to provide assistance in the form of consultation for long-term projects or more urgent consultation during ongoing outbreaks.
Significance: Since their establishment, CoEs have addressed FSMA requirements by developing online tools and providing guidance and support to other health departments, which has improved foodborn illness surveillance and response capacity across the country. CoEs provide valuable resources and enhance the efficiency of surveillance and investigation activities at no cost to the receiving agency.