The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH), as part of the Environmental Health Specialist Network (EHS-Net) Grant, will conduct research as to root causes and how to most effectively reduce foodborne illnesses, disabilities and death. Reducing miscarriages and deaths due to Listeriosis associated with consuming luncheon meats sliced at retail is a priority for Year One research. Environmental swabs and inspections will be used to evaluate design and construction problems associated with slicers that may be contributing to Listeriosis and Salmonellosis. Findings will be used to inform NSF International in the revision of international design standards for slicers. Research may also result in the recall of unsafe slicers that pose a serious food safety hazard. Subsequent research will focus on root causes for the transmission of Salmonellosis, Norovirus, and other EHS-Net identified priority illnesses. Barriers and facilitators to eliminating foodborne illness risk factors will be identified. Best practices to eliminate foodborne illness risk factors will be identified along with how best to improve the effectiveness of inspections to protect public health. HEALTH seeks to work with EHS-Net to collaborate in identifying the most effective means for reducing foodborne illnesses and deaths. Participating in this statewide effort will be three segments of the HEALTH: the Office of Food Protection, the Office of Communicable Diseases, and the RI Department of Health Laboratories, as well as the Rhode Island Food Safety Task Force, the University of Rhode Island and Johnson and Wales University. HEALTH will collaborate with EHS-Net in the analysis of data and findings from all EHS-Net research projects, and in the development and dissemination of scientific publications and health advocacy initiatives for the environmental public health community through scientific journals, presentations at professional meetings, and other effective means.
Project Narrative As part of this EHS-Net grant, the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) will determine why Listeriosis is associated with consuming luncheon meat sliced at retail in order to prevent miscarriages, and deaths among the elderly and other high-risk groups. Strategies to reduce Listeriosis, Salmonellosis, Norovirus and other EHS-Net targeted illnesses will also be developed and disseminated through scientific journals, presentation at national conferences and other effective means.