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New database lets people search for information on outbreaks of food-borne illness

December 14, 2010 | 11:38 am

Egg shopper Want to know if the food in your kitchen or favorite restaurant is safe –- or has been linked to a food-safety recall?

Marler Clark, the Seattle-based group known for being the nation’s leading law firm for victims of food-borne illness, has launched a free database that tracks outbreaks of such illness.

The database is pulling together data from state and local health departments, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other publications that track outbreaks. The cases date to 1984, according to the site.

It isn’t perfect, but it’s a solid start. A quick search of the site for “California” and “salmonella,” the pathogen connected to the massive egg recall earlier this year, came up with nine reported outbreaks, including a Margarita Mix-Off held at Manzanita Place in Chico in May and the closure in August of Don Perico's Restaurant in Bakersfield by Kern County’s Public Health Services Department.

You’d think the federal government would have something this user-friendly set up. Or perhaps not, given how complicated things are over the regulation of food items in the U.S.

The database can be found here. The firm is also asking for public comments about the project and continuing to gather information to update the database.

-- P.J. Huffstutter

Photo: A shopper pauses at the egg cooler at a grocery store in Des Moines, Iowa. Credit: Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press

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