Food-borne disease outbreak investigation responsibilities

In Western Australia, local governments are responsible for the investigation of food-borne disease incidents or outbreaks that occur within their district.

From time to time, outbreaks may involve multiple local government districts. When this occurs, the Food Unit will coordinate the investigations through the relevant local governments.


Case (confirmed)

 An ill person who:

  • has had a food-borne disease pathogen confirmed in a faecal sample specimen by a laboratory


  • has been epidemiologically associated with a particular outbreak by OzFoodNet.

Local government

In response to an outbreak local governments:

  • take appropriate action in response to information indicating that an outbreak is occurring, or has occurred in a food business.
  • undertake an onsite food safety investigation of the food business or food believed to be linked to the food-borne disease incident or outbreak.

Food Unit

In response to an outbreak the Food Unit:

  • support local government in coordinating the environmental health investigation
  • take appropriate action in response to information indicating that an outbreak is occurring either in:
    • public hospitals
    • dairy (primary production, processing and transportation)
    • primary production of seafood (manufacturing of seafood which includes bi-valve molluscs)
    • a food business not within a district (Hillarys Boat Harbour, Rottnest, King’s Park).

Population Health Unit

In response to an outbreak the Population Health Unit must:

  • conduct epidemiological investigations into single incident cases of enteric disease caused by:
    • cholera
    • hepatitis A and E
    • Salmonella Paratyphi
    • Shigella disenteriae
    • Salmonella Typhi that occur in rural areas.


In response to an outbreak OzFoodNet must:

  • determine the incidence and patterns of food-borne disease in the community
  • identify possible sources for the food-borne disease through interviewing ill cases and studying epidemiological data.

In general, clusters or outbreaks of food-borne disease, especially those occurring in the Perth metropolitan area are investigated by OzFoodNet.

Enforcement agencies are encouraged to complete the referral Report of Suspected Food-borne Disease Outbreak from Public (Word 453 KB) form when informing the WA Health of suspected food-borne disease outbreaks.

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Public Health