Food-borne disease outbreak investigation

In Western Australia, the identification, investigation and control of a food-borne disease outbreak requires the coordination and sharing of information between various government agencies including:

  • local governments
  • Food Unit, WA Department of Health
  • Population Health Unit, WA Department of Health
  • OzFoodNet (WA branch) Australian Department of Health.

All government agencies work simultaneously during a food-borne disease outbreak investigation, collecting and sharing information to identify, investigate, control and prevent the continuance of an outbreak.

Read more about the different responsibilities of government agencies during a food-borne disease outbreak in the Guidelines for the Environmental Health Investigation of a Food-borne Disease Outbreak (PDF 1.42MB).

Irrespective of the size of the outbreak, a complete outbreak investigation involves three components:

  • laboratory investigations
  • epidemiological investigations
  • environmental health investigations.

Guidelines for enforcement agencies

The Guidelines for the Environmental Health Investigation of a Food-borne Disease Outbreak (PDF 1.42MB) (the Guidelines) has been developed to assist enforcement agency authorised officers in the investigation and control of a food-borne disease outbreak caused by biological agents.

Specifically, the Guidelines provide authorised officers with step-by-step guidance: from the time the local government is notified of a known or suspected food-borne disease case to the onsite investigation and the implementation of preventative measures.

The Guidelines include:

  • clarification on each agency’s roles and responsibilities (Section 2)
  • types of food-borne disease outbreaks (Section 3)
  • the local government notification process (Section 3).
  • an outline of a comprehensive procedure for environmental health investigations (Section 4)
  • examples of appropriate control measures for food-borne disease outbreaks (Section 5)
  • useful directions on laboratory requirements for environmental health sampling and analysis (Section 6).
  • information on communication with external stakeholders (Section 7)
  • contact details of relevant stakeholders (Section 8).

The appendices contain supporting documentation such as technical advice, instructions and templates that may be useful during the investigation.

The Guidelines can also be applied to the investigation of a single case food-borne disease incident.

Reporting an outbreak

If you wish to report a food-borne disease incident or outbreak, contact the environmental health department of your local government (external site).  

More information

Read the Guidelines for the Environmental Health Investigation of a Food-borne Disease Outbreak (PDF 1.42MB).

The summary of the onsite investigation process for a food-borne disease outbreak (PDF 122KB) can be used as a quick reference guide when investigating food-borne disease outbreaks in the field.

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