Public health partners

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There are many public health partners involved in enteric outbreak detection and response in Canada. These investigative partners represent various levels of government within Canada and internationally. The roles and responsibilities of investigative partners during an enteric illness outbreak are summarized in Table 1 below. As roles tend to be more variable at the local/regional and provincial/territorial level, more detail is provided for the three main federal partners involved in food safety: the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada.

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Roles and responsibilities

Table 1: Roles and responsibilities of investigative partners during an enteric illness outbreak

Investigative partner Role and responsibility

Local/regional public health officials

  • Laboratories
  • Epidemiology
  • Food safety
  • Investigate cases of human enteric illness.
  • Conduct surveillance of enteric illnesses.
  • Identify and investigate local/regional outbreaks.
  • Conduct inspections and implement control measures to reduce health risks related to food.
  • Report cases of enteric illness and food safety investigation findings to provincial/territorial public health officials.

Provincial/territorial public health officials

  • Laboratories
  • Epidemiology
  • Food safety
  • Conduct provincial/territorial surveillance of enteric illnesses.
  • Conduct laboratory analyses of clinical, food and environmental samples collected in respective jurisdictions.
  • Lead and coordinate the response to multi-jurisdictional (local/regional) outbreaks.
  • Validate and coordinate the exchange of epidemiologic data between local/regional and federal public health officials.
  • Report cases of enteric illness and results of laboratory analyses to federal public health officials.
Provincial/territorial agriculture officials
  • Conduct food safety investigations at provincially- or territorially-regulated facilities (i.e., facilities not under the regulatory responsibility of the CFIA).
  • Implement measures to control the potential source of enteric illnesses.

Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)

  • Laboratories: National Microbiology Laboratory (NML)
  • Epidemiology: Centre for Foodborne, Environmental and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (CFEZID)
    • Outbreak Management Division (OMD)
    • Foodborne Disease and Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Division (FDASD)
  • Outbreak Support/Epidemiology: Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response (CEPR)
    • Canadian Field Epidemiology Program (CFEP)
    • Canadian Public Health Service (CPHS)

Link to PHAC food safety:

Requesting PHAC outbreak support:

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)

  • Office of Food Safety and Recall (OFSR)
  • Local/Regional offices
  • Laboratories
  • Conduct food safety investigations, including inspection activities, at federally-regulated facilities.
  • Coordinate food recalls and other measures to control the potential source of illnesses.
  • Provide laboratory analyses of food samples.
  • Liaise with international partners, such as the United States Food and Drug Administration (US-FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Link to CFIA recalls:

Health Canada

  • Bureau of Microbial Hazards (BMH)
  • Conduct a health risk assessment of the implicated source(s) of illnesses using a weight of evidence approach.
  • Assign a health risk to the implicated source(s) of the illnesses.
  • Develop health policies and standards based on investigation findings, when applicable.

Link to Health Canada, BMH: 

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Toolkit acronym list

  • This resource contains a list of acronyms referenced within Toolkit and/or of interest to public health professionals working in enteric outbreak response.

Canada’s Foodborne Illness Outbreak Response Protocol (FIORP)

  • This is the primary guidance document for multi-jurisdictional investigations of foodborne illness outbreaks in Canada; it is followed when cases are reported in more than one province or territory, or in Canada as well as another country, and when multiple agencies are involved.

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