Analysis of Foodborne Disease Outbreaks for Improvement of Food Safety Programs in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from 2002 to 2006

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Foodborne disease (FBD) is a common food safety problem in Seoul, Republic of Korea. To identify target areas for improvement of the food safety programs, FBD outbreaks from 2002 to 2006 were analyzed with regard to facility, monthly occurrences, and causative agents. A total of 147 FBD outbreaks were reported, with an average of 29.4 FBD outbreaks per year and 49 cases per outbreak. Restaurants and school lunches were two main facilities associated with 76.2% of the outbreaks. A majority of FBD cases (73.1%) were from school lunches. The highest number of outbreaks and cases occurred in June, followed by March. Among the seven identified causative agents, norovirus was the most significant in the number of outbreaks and cases. Among the outbreaks and cases with causative agents identified, norovirus and Staphylococcus aureus were responsible for 61.7% of outbreaks and 81.5% of cases. The analysis indicates that the efficiency of current food safety programs could be enhanced if critical control points in school lunch programs are identified and incorporated in the training and inspection. Identifying risk factors for contamination of norovirus and Staphylococcus aureus would also be beneficial.

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