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The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture investigated six foodborne illness outbreaks in 2023, according to a report issued by the FSIS last week. 

Altogether, these outbreaks caused 100 illnesses and 30 hospitalizations, according to the FSIS. In five of the instances, the FSIS was notified of the outbreak by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

In addition, five of the outbreaks involved reports of illnesses in more than one state.   

The FSIS reported that three of the outbreaks were caused by Salmonella and two by STEC (Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli). All five involved beef products. The sixth case involved a report of botulism in commercially canned potted meat that contained chicken and pork as a potential source. 

None of the outbreaks lead to recalls.

Six may seem like a relatively small number, but the FSIS stated in the report that “while investigating outbreaks is crucial to protect public health, it is important to note that outbreak-associated illnesses represent a very small proportion of all foodborne illnesses. Consumers who are sick with a foodborne illness may not seek medical care or be tested for foodborne pathogens. Those that are tested may not be linked to other similar illnesses to initiate an outbreak investigation.”  

A slight improvement over 2022

The report’s figures show a slight improvement over the 2022 report, which cited seven outbreaks. These outbreaks involved about 120 illnesses and 30 hospitalizations. Five of the seven involved illnesses in more than one state. 

Salmonella and STEC both caused three outbreaks, while the seventh involved a Botulism illness. 

And just like in 2023, beef products were at the center of the investigations. 

The importance of recordkeeping

In 2011, the FDA established the Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) network to respond to foodborne illness outbreaks. 

When an FDA-regulated product is the subject of an outbreak investigation, the FDA works with state and local partners “to conduct a traceback investigation and determine the origin of the identified food.”

The FSIS report highlighted the importance of recordkeeping and how the absence of well-kept records can make it harder to mitigate an outbreak. 

“In FY 2023, FSIS investigated several outbreaks potentially associated with ground beef, including beef ground and packaged at retail stores. Ground beef produced in retail stores can complicate investigations if retail records do not clearly identify the specific suppliers of beef that were ground and later purchased by ill people,” the FSIS wrote. 

The report states that retailers that grind meat in-store are required to keep records of all beef produced in-store and that “these records are crucial for investigators to identify potentially contaminated product(s) that may be linked to an outbreak and for FSIS to take action to prevent additional illnesses.”

By January 20, 2026, all companies that manufacture, process, pack, or hold foods that are on the FDA’s Food Traceability List will be required to have in place specific recordkeeping requirements that are detailed in Section 204D of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  

These include the requirement to establish and maintain key data elements for critical tracking events that occur within the company's supply chain. These events involve the harvesting, cooling, and packing of raw agricultural commodities among others. 

Record Keeping with the Rootwurks LXP

End-to-end record keeping is essential for companies that want to meet compliance obligations. Not only because compliance regulations require recordkeeping, but also because good recordkeeping helps companies keep track of which actions have been carried out, when they have been performed, and by whom. This helps prevent wasted time repeating tasks that were already performed, helping increase efficiency.  

The Rootwurks Learning Experience Platform (LXP) provides paperless recordkeeping of all compliance and training tasks carried out at each company location. While this does not include food traceability recordkeeping, the LXP does carefully record training and can be used to educate team members about traceability and the tasks they are required to perform. 

Recordkeeping can also keep track of internal audits and assessments performed on daily operations. In addition, by using Rootwurks checklists, companies can track all operational tasks carried out by team members. 

To learn more about the recordkeeping feature of the LXP, check out a demo here: Book a Demo


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Ben Hartman, Content Manager

Ben Hartman is a writing and marketing professional with over 15 years of experience in journalism and digital content creation. Ben was formerly the senior writer and research and analysis lead for The Cannigma.

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