"Attribution" refers to attempts to assign illness caused by various enteric pathogens to specific food commodities. Such "attribution" may be done at several levels, including animal reservoirs (e.g., cattle), food-processing plants (e.g., slaughterhouses or packaging plants), retail foods (e.g., ground beef), or even specific foods eaten (e.g., tacos).
In an outbreak of foodborne disease, the specific food source may be learned with certainty. In the case of "sporadic" cases of foodborne illness, however, food sources cannot be attributed with certainty, but must be inferred. Such inferences may be based on various data sources, including types of pathogens found in various food animals, the foods implicated as causes of outbreaks, or even by asking experts what their best guesses are.
This page is intended to highlight some of the efforts being made by FoodNet to attribute enteric illnesses to food sources and to offer links to efforts being made by other experts in foodborne illness.