Editor’s Note: Food Safety Website Washington D.C. correspondent Lydia Zuraw for the past two and one half years will after today be found reporting for nonprofit Kaiser Health News. She was kind enough to leave us some departing thoughts on the work she did for our readers.
During my time with Food Safety Website, I wrote more than 300 bylined articles and probably twice that number of News Desks. Most of my work was about Congressional budgets or the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), but I also covered consumer education, new research, outbreak investigations and animal antibiotics. While looking back through the work I’ve produced for FSN since 2013, I decided to compile a list of some of my favorites. Because it’s too hard to rank them, I’ve listed them in chronological order. Study: E. Coli Cattle Vaccination Could Prevent 83 Percent of Human Cases, published on Sept. 23, 2013, was one of my firsts, but is still one of my favorites. E. coli vaccines could have a huge impact on public health, but they don’t really benefit the cattle producer who has to pay for them and that conflict fascinated me. Warren Questions FDA Commissioner About Antibiotics Guidance, published on March 14, 2014, may not have been the most exciting article ever – it explains why some people aren’t thrilled with FDA’s animal antibiotic guidance – working on it was what caused both my understanding of the issues surrounding antibiotic resistance and my interest in the subject to click into place. I love Shellfish Causing Confusion in FSMA Sanitary Transportation Rule which was published on March 21, 2014 simply because it came out of nowhere. I wasn’t sure I was going to get a story out of this FDA public meeting and then the executive director of the Shellfish Growers of Virginia asked a question which really stumped the agency officials. How Culture-Independent Diagnostics Threaten Public Health Surveillance, published on Nov. 12, 2014, was about how pathogen testing is changing and the pros and cons of culture-independent tests. I worked on this one for several months and I was very pleased with the result. 2014 in Review: Animal Antibiotics, published on Dec. 22, 2014, was a 1500-word undertaking, but even if no one else read it, this summary article was a great resource for me any time I covered animal antibiotics in 2015. Most Consumers Don’t Use Food Thermometers Despite Importance to Food Safety was published on Feb. 9, 2015 and since then, “use a thermometer” has been my main piece of advice to anyone who asks me about food safety. Oregon Outbreak Museum Memorializes What We’ve Learned About Foodborne Illness was published on Aug. 17, 2015. We know that E. coli O157 is often linked to hamburgers or produce and that Norovirus infections are often linked to food handlers working when they’re sick because of the collective information from thousands of outbreak investigations. This little museum and its website celebrate that collective knowledge. Don’t Forget the Epidemiology: Unraveling a Five-Year Listeria Outbreak, published on Sept. 8, 2015, tapped into my love for epidemiology. While whole-genome sequencing was essential to get the ball rolling on this outbreak investigation, it still took the traditional legwork of epidemiologist to solve the mystery. Open Data on Restaurant Inspections a Useful Tool for Consumers and Government, published on Oct. 28, 2015, was not only about the power of Yelp and other social media when it comes to tracking foodborne illness, but also how big data can predict which food establishments would be most likely to have critical violations. CDC Report: Multi-State Outbreaks Few But Deadly, published on Nov. 3, 2015, was a pretty standard article, but it’s the infographic that makes it a highlight. There were so many numbers to make sense of in the CDC report that I figured visuals would be a big help.