Enhanced foodborne disease surveillance has been recognised as an essential tool to help reduce food poisoning by the World Health Organization and many countries around the world. The Australian Government established OzFoodNet in 2000 as a collaborative initiative with Australia's state and territory health authorities to provide national capacity to identify and respond to outbreaks of foodborne diseases and to provide information on foodborne disease. OzFoodNet is represented on the Communicable Diseases Network Australia, and works in collaboration with Food Standards Australia New Zealand, the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, state and territory food authorities, and the Public Health Laboratory Network.
Mission and aims
OzFoodNet's mission is to investigate foodborne disease, to describe more effectively its epidemiology and to identify ways to minimise foodborne disease in Australia.
OzFoodNet aims to:
- investigate the epidemiology of foodborne diseases, conduct enhanced surveillance and collaborate on relevant studies;
- collaborate nationally to coordinate investigations into foodborne disease outbreaks, particularly those that cross state, territory and country borders;
- identify foods and commodities that cause human disease, providing relevant information to stakeholders, advocacy for policy development and implementation, and contributing to risk assessments;
- contribute data to inform the estimation of the incidence and cost of foodborne disease in Australia; and
- develop and maintain skills and capacity for the epidemiological investigation of foodborne diseases.
Operation of the Network
The Australian Government provides funding to states and territories to maintain an OzFoodNet site within each jurisdiction, overseen by an epidemiologist to undertake active surveillance of foodborne diseases and to investigate foodborne and potentially foodborne disease outbreaks. A co-ordinating epidemiologist ensures a consistent direction and methodology for OzFoodNet through consensus.
The OzFoodNet central team is based in the Office of Health Protection and Response, a division of the Australian Government Department of Health in Canberra.
Information sharing is crucial for the success of OzFoodNet. Network members communicate frequently about issues such as unexpected clusters of foodborne disease in Australia.
OzFoodNet analyses data on foodborne diseases in Australia. These analyses enable the network to identify outbreaks linked to particular infections, and to help health departments to detect problems with food or water safety. Data from the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System can be acessed on the Introduction to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System web page.
Guidelines for the epidemiological investigation of multi-jurisdictional outbreaks that are potentially foodborne
OzFoodNet has developed Guidelines for the epidemiological investigation of multi-jurisdictional outbreaks that are potentially foodborne to provide clear guidance for coordinating the national epidemiological investigation into outbreaks that cross state, territory and country borders.
- Guidelines for the epidemiological investigation of multi-jurisdictional outbreaks that are potentially foodborne (PDF 198 KB)
- Guidelines for the epidemiological investigation of multi-jurisdictional outbreaks that are potentially foodborne (Word 175 KB)
OzFoodNet reports can be accessed on the OzFoodNet Reports web page.