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Foodborne Outbreak Challenge - 2016

Colorado Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence Hosts Foodborne Outbreak Challenge | by Ashley Rankin


The Colorado Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence hosted its very first Foodborne Outbreak Challenge on April 1, 2016. This one day, inter-campus event brought together multidisciplinary teams of students from all 3 CSPH campuses to solve an outbreak and develop a food safety intervention.

In the morning, teams of students worked together against time on the “The Investigation” to solve three outbreak mysteries: etiology, food vehicle, and contamination source.

During lunch, Alicia Cronquist, MPH, RN, Colorado Department of Public Health gave a re-cap of the real outbreak while Marisa Bunning, PhD, Colorado State University reviewed food safety challenges faced by the implicated food item.

The second half of the day, coined, “The Intervention” was dedicated to students again working in teams to develop an intervention to a major food safety challenge. Toward the end, team presentations were judged by an expert panel of food safety professionals from the local community.

The winning scholarship, sponsored by EpiX Analytics, was awarded to Maggie Weinroth (CSU), Catherine Davis (CSU) and Caroline Ledbetter (CU). The second-placed scholarship, sponsored by Colorado Beef Council, was awarded to Kaitlyn Chorbi (CU), Rachel Murphy (CSU), and Karam Ahmad (CSU).

When asked her of favorite portion of the Food Outbreak Challenge, Amber Vaugn, CU Denver, MPH Epidemiology Candidate stated, “The realistic nature of the outbreak simulation. The video clues were great, the vests of the workers let us know who we could ask for help, and the pseudo-stool sample was a fun addition!”

Kaitlyn Chorbi, CU Denver, regarding how her academic studies prepared her for the simulation outbreak event, stated: “I really enjoyed completing the activities involved in solving the outbreak, especially the activity in which we had to calculate the relative risks of the various foods to determine which one was contaminated. My epidemiology classes and outbreak investigation training I’ve taken helped a great deal.”

Food Safety students and staff considered the Food Outbreak Challenge a success and look forward to offering the event in the future. 

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