Discussion Paper

Linking Illness to Food: Summary of a Workshop on Food Attribution

Nov 1, 2004 | Michael B. Batz, Michael P. Doyle, Glenn Morris, John Painter, Ruby Singh, Robert Tauxe, Michael R. Taylor, Danilo M.A. Lo Fo Wong


To identify and prioritize effective food safety interventions, it is critical not only to identify the pathogens responsible for illness, but also to attribute cases of foodborne disease to the specific food vehicle responsible. A wide variety of such “food attribution” approaches and data are used around the world, including the analysis of and extrapolation from outbreak and other surveillance data, case-control studies, microbial subtyping and source-tracking methods, and expert judgment, among others. The Food Safety Research Consortium sponsored the Food Attribution Data Workshop in October 2003 to discuss the virtues and limitations of these approaches and to identify future options for the collection of food attribution data in the United States. This discussion paper summarizes workshop discussions and identifies challenges that affect progress in this critical component of a risk-based approach to improving food safety.