ATLANTA, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- States need more epidemiologists working in food safety to address foodborne diseases effectively, U.S. health officials say.
A report published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report said states need additional training opportunities for existing staff, greater investment in information technologies to improve detection and response capacity, and further progress in building relationships between state and local health departments.
In addition, there must be closer collaboration with federal agencies responsible for the control and prevention of foodborne disease, the report said.
"The Council of State, Territorial Epidemiologists' Food Safety Epidemiology Capacity Assessment found that in 2010, states reported a need for 304 more full-time employees working in food safety to reach full program capacity, with the greatest demand for master's level epidemiologists," the report said. "States said barriers to investigating foodborne outbreaks included delayed notification of the outbreak, lack of sufficient number of foodborne safety staff, lower prioritization of investigations, lack of ability to pay overtime and lack of adequate epidemiology expertise."