U.S – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released its inaugural CORE 2022 Annual Report, offering a comprehensive overview of a decade-long mission to tackle foodborne illnesses and adverse events tied to FDA-regulated foods.

The Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) Network, established in 2011, collaborates with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other partners to detect, halt, and prevent foodborne illness outbreaks.

The team reviews data from food firms, including past inspections, sampling results, product distribution, and sourcing information. It also considers previous incidents involving similar pathogen and food pairs.

This information can provide clues to understand emerging outbreaks. When an outbreak appears to be caused by an FDA-regulated human food, this information is passed to a CORE Response Team to coordinate FDA’s response efforts.

In 2022, CORE responded to 65 incidents, evaluated 28, and issued 11 advisories—an uptick from 2021, albeit with the third-lowest number of incidents in the network’s history.

Produce emerged as a significant culprit, linked to 37% of incidents, while enoki mushrooms, cantaloupe, and even powdered infant formula were among the identified sources of contamination.

Of particular note was the FDA’s response to the Cronobacter sakazakii contamination of powdered infant formula, leading to a national shortage. The agency implemented a commodity-specific prevention strategy and issued 11 advisories, nine recall announcements, and a nationwide import alert.

The report underscores the significance of international collaboration during outbreaks, citing the enoki mushroom-linked outbreaks in 2020 and 2022, prompting a commodity-specific prevention strategy.

Notable too was the August 2022 multistate Salmonella typhimurium outbreak linked to cantaloupe, demonstrating the complexities of traceback investigations.

A multifaceted outbreak of Salmonella senftenberg infections linked to peanut butter products also drew attention, resulting in voluntary recalls and a warning letter from the FDA.

The report discusses ongoing efforts to communicate findings and insights, highlighting the use of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) Adverse Event Reporting System (CAERS) in investigating incidents involving powdered infant formula, a meal replacement drink, dry cereal, and frozen food.

Markedly, the CORE Network responded to the increasing workload by establishing a fourth Response Team in 2022, underscoring its commitment to addressing the growing challenges in safeguarding food safety.

The report acknowledges the extensive efforts made to communicate findings to the public, with 42 publications in 2020–2022, tripling the average annual publication efforts in the preceding years.

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