The Governor announced the launch of a new website – FoodSafetyReporting.ky.gov – where Kentuckians can easily report food-borne issues.
Previously when someone suspected what they had eaten made them ill, it was reported to district or local health departments via phone, then a decision was made as to whether further investigation was needed. The new website allows for direct reporting by consumers. The website also allows state public health officials to get the necessary information more efficiently, and in return, allows for quicker action to prevent others from becoming sick.
“Protecting the health and safety of our Kentucky families is my top priority,” Governor Andy Beshear said. “With this new service, we will improve our ability to quickly help Kentuckians receive, analyze and respond to foodborne illness reports and identify food-borne outbreaks and prevent others from getting sick.”
“The goal with this new food safety reporting site is to quickly get information from consumers, which will help to prevent others from becoming sick,” said Eric Friedlander, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
Consumers may still report food safety concerns by phone to their local health department, according to Department for Public Health (DPH) Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack. The site offers an online form for gathering location data and the suspected source of illness, in addition to serving as a source of information related to foodborne illness.
When the online form is submitted, the platform sends an alert to DPH’s Food Safety Branch and the appropriate local health department for follow-up. If needed, a multiagency response team can be activated to minimize impact.
“We want to avoid situations where rapid response is needed, but should that be the case, DPH, including the state lab and local health departments, stand ready to respond with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,” Dr. Stack said.
Foodborne illness is a preventable public health challenge, according to Dr. Stack. It comes from eating contaminated food. Onset of symptoms may occur within minutes to weeks and often presents itself as flu-like, as the ill person may experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or fever. Because the symptoms resemble the flu, many people may not recognize that the illness is caused by harmful bacteria or other pathogens in food.
“Everyone is at risk for getting a food-borne illness,” Dr. Stack said, adding that some people are at greater risk for experiencing a more serious illness or even death should they get a food-borne illness, such as the very young, very old or those with health issues.