Surveillance of foodborne outbreaks of infectious intestinal disease in England and Wales 1992–1999: contributing to evidence-based food policy?

S. J. O'Brien, R. Elson, I. A. Gillespie, G. K. Adak, J. M. Cowden

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Between 1992 and 1999, a total of 1426 general outbreaks of infectious intestinal disease reported to the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre (CDSC) were described as foodborne. Where the evidence base to support the conclusions drawn was provided (66.3% of outbreaks) a combination of microbiological and analytical evidence was reported in 4% of outbreaks (60/1426); microbiological evidence alone in 10% of outbreaks (149/1426); analytical evidence alone in 23% of outbreaks (322/1426); microbiological evidence in combination with descriptive epidemiology in 3% of outbreaks (46/1426) and descriptive epidemiology alone in 26% of outbreaks (365/1426). Information supplied to CDSC by local investigators appears to be of varying quality and depth and may be influenced by the individual characteristics of outbreaks such as size and duration, outbreak setting, causative organism, vehicles of infection and time of year. These findings have implications for the use of these surveillance data in developing evidence-based food policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-80
Number of pages6
JournalPublic Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2002


  • Communicable Diseases/*epidemiology/microbiology/virology *Disease Outbreaks England/epidemiology *Evidence-Based Medicine *Food Microbiology Food Supply/*standards Foodborne Diseases/*epidemiology/microbiology/virology *Health Policy Humans Intestinal Diseases/*epidemiology/microbiology/virology Population Surveillance Seasons Wales/epidemiology

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