Lab Canada

Twist of fate gives food safety event a food poisoning outbreak

Baltimore, MD – Organizers of this year’s 2015 Food Safety Summit are tackling a foodborne illness problem from last year’s summit head-on.

In an ironic twist of fate, attendees at the 2014 conference were hit with an outbreak of food poisoning. Summit organizers immediately followed up with the local departments of health and attendees to determine the cause and extent of the outbreak. Investigative methods included contacting all attendees via an internet survey, an epidemiologic investigation, environmental investigation and laboratory analyses. After a final report was received, organizers developed a 2015 Food Oversight Plan to avoid a repetition of the problems that led to the outbreak. The plan will be in effect for this year’s event, which takes place at the same venue.

The organizers say the outbreak at the 2014 summit showed that such an outbreak can happen at any time, anywhere, and at any event.

Not only are organizers ensuring that this year’s attendees are protected – attendees will also learn from the experience. Both the outbreak and the subsequent investigation process by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will be used as a case study on the role of outbreak investigations as part of this year’s program.

“When we learned that attendees to the Food Safety Summit were ill after attending the 2014 event, we fully cooperated with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene regarding this matter and assisted them with their investigation as requested,” said Scott Wolters, director for the Food Safety Summit. “We continued to do so while the investigation was conducted and while the final investigation report was being prepared. The Food Safety Summit has never had an incident like this happen before, and we feel it’s important to share with our attendees the details of the investigation to learn and to help prevent similar outbreaks from occurring in the future.”

The Food Safety Summit will be held April 28 through April 30, 2015 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, MD.