Welcome to An Edible Disaster

Hey, I’m Evan. Welcome to An Edible Disaster. In this blog I’ll share some interesting food safety news and views as well as comment on my research and life as a Public Health PhD candidate.

I chose the name “An Edible Disaster” for this blog because I study public health emergency preparedness. My main interest is in food safety and foodborne disease. While it may not be mainstream, I view foodborne disease outbreaks as disasters – to be taken as seriously as any other natural or manmade disaster. They constantly recur, and like other disasters they are handled by a set of emergency responders – usually environmental health professionals, epidemiologists, laboratorians, and regulators in government agencies (See the “Team Diarrhea” video below). The field of emergency preparedness has learned and improved much from past emergency responses, however I do not see the same progress in foodborne disease outbreak preparedness. Thus, my goal with this blog is to comment on public health preparedness research and practice, often as it relates to foodborne disease outbreaks.

Just to give you an idea of exactly where I’m coming from, allow me to introduce to you Team Diarrhea. Team Diarrhea (aka Team D) is a group of epidemiologists, laboratorians, and graduate public health students who work in foodborne disease surveillance at the Minnesota Department of Health in St. Paul, MN. The group works with physicians from around Minnesota and the CDC to detect cases of foodborne disease, identify which foods the unfortunate cases ate before their illnesses, and to end “clusters” or outbreaks of foodborne diseases when a specific food is making many people sick. (Full disclosure: I was previously a student worker on Team D)

These are the emergency responders responsible for identifying foods that are contaminated with dangerous bacteria like E. coli and removing them from the market before they cause hundreds or thousands of severe illnesses. These are the disasters I want to improve our ability to respond to.

I’ll have plenty more to write about Team D in the future, but for now I’ll leave you with some entertaining video. Sit back and enjoy some high-quality diarrhea theatre!

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