The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently launched a new toolkit for identifying the root causes of foodborne illness outbreaks on its Restaurant Food Safety webpage.

The toolkit provides an overview of root cause investigations, an explanation of the impact of root cause investigations, resources for carrying out root cause investigations, and the differences between root causes and contributing factors.

A resource included in the toolkit is a reference for users of the National Environmental Assessment Reporting System (NEARS), which is CDC’s surveillance system to capture environmental assessment data from foodborne illness outbreak investigations. Food safety staff who use NEARS report information on root causes of foodborne illness outbreaks. NEARS informs the understanding of outbreaks in communities and enables action to stop them. CDC also uses this information to identify common root causes across outbreaks.