The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) constitutes a major part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. government’s main agency that addresses issues concerning the health of U.S. citizens. Unlike the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the CDC does not have a regulatory function as pertains to food safety.  The CDC’s role in food poisoning is limited.  However, the CDC works closely with such agencies in researching, documenting, reacting to and preventing future foodborne illness outbreaks.

The CDC – a brief history

The CDC’s acronym originally stood for the “Communicable Disease Center.”  The Communicable Disease Center initially came into being in 1946 with a primary focus: to fight malaria by ridding mosquitos from the environment. Over time, the CDC mission and functions evolved.  Today, the CDC’s mission is broad and its efforts are incredibly diverse, including, but not limited to, communicable diseases, emergency preparedness and response, environmental health, motor vehicle safety, and workplace safety.  The agency’s overall mission is to prevent, control, monitor, prepare for and respond to public health emergencies, including public health emergencies caused by foodborne illness outbreaks. The CDC’s efforts are not restricted to our national borders; the CDC also participates internationally in protecting the public health and is globally recognized, with offices in more than 25 foreign nations.

The CDC’s Role in Food Poisoning

The CDC researches, compiles, and maintains national, as well as international, health and disease statistics. The CDC is constantly improving its methods to more accurately investigate, monitor, and prevent food poisoning outbreaks. One of the major prevention and response efforts implemented by the CDC, working closely with state and other public health departments, is a system of surveillance networks. Surveillance networks are designed to identify and monitor disease outbreaks, specifically including foodborne illness outbreaks. The CDC employs experts in epidemiology and other essential laboratory sciences to interpret and analyze public health threats and provides such expertise, through consultation and collaboration, to other health departments and agencies.  CDC  researchers are ceaselessly developing technologies and methods to effectively identify pathogens, both old and new, that cause food poisoning and outbreaks.