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Facilitators and Barriers to Conducting Environmental Assessments for Food Establishment Outbreaks, National Environmental Assessment Reporting System, 2014-2016.

Environmental health specialists often perform environmental assessments (EAs) when a suspected or confirmed foodborne illness outbreak is linked to a food establishment. Information from EAs helps officials determine the cause of the outbreak and develop strategies to prevent future outbreaks; however, EAs are not always conducted. To determine facilitators and barriers to conducting EAs, we analyzed open-ended responses reported to the National Environmental Assessment Reporting System about these assessments. We found that EAs were conducted most often when illness was identified, a jurisdiction had a policy to investigate illnesses, and there were resources for such a response. EAs were not conducted in instances such as limited resources, insufficient training, uncooperative facility personnel, or if the establishment fell outside of health department jurisdiction. Identifying the facilitators and barriers to conducting EAs can enable health departments to develop strategies that improve their ability to conduct EAs.

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