Welcome to the official website for the 2011 Food Safety Biosurveillance Workshop at Michigan State University on October 26-28!

The workshop will explore the serious uses of social media for health and the incorporation of new data sources to identify temporal and spatial clusters of foodborne illness.  Social media provide a vast new source of data, which have been largely untapped for scientific potential and that could form the basis for a novel approach to improve the detection of and response to foodborne illness.

This workshop assembles a multidisciplinary group comprised of food safety experts (from academia, government, industry and civil society), computer scientists and mathematicians (versed in data mining, visualization, Web information extraction), spatial geographers and social media entrepreneurs. The group will delve deeper into the potential of web-based and collaborative tools in aiding surveillance of foodborne illness.

The overall goal is to translate ideas into action as they relate to surveillance of foodborne illness using social media. The near-term goal is to develop an implementable blueprint to improve detection of foodborne illnesses using existing tools and methodologies. The long-term goal is to create a plan for research, development and evaluation of top-priority innovative methods for providing early detection of foodborne illnesses.

We would like to thank our participants and all of the colleagues who have helped bring this workshop to fruition. Thank you also to Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine for hosting the workshop and to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, especially the offices of Dr. Taha Kass-Hout, Deputy Division Director for Information Science, for sponsoring this event.  Special thanks to Dr. Andrijana Rajic, Senior Epidemiologist and Adjunct Professor, Science to Policy Division, Laboratory for Foodborne Zoonoses, Public Health Agency of Canada, for her expert guidance on the scoping study conducted for discussion of preliminary results during the workshop.

We encourage you to get involved by providing articles, links and information useful for food safety biosurveillance to the website.  Contact the co-coordinators of the workshop, Dr. Theresa Bernardo and Dr. Julie Funk, directly for further information or to get involved.


This workshop was supported by MSU's College of Veterinary Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).


In August 2011 a scoping study was initiated to identify research related to the use of social media for disease surveillance.

Using results from online and database searches, a list of relevant documents was created.  The current state of knowledge about the use and efficacy of social media for disease surveillance will be evaluated using relevant information gleaned from the selected documents.

Preliminary results will be presented during the October 2011 Food Safety Biosurveillance Workshop and used as a starting point for evaluating the research that has been done on this topic and for creating an agenda for the future.

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Tracing the evolution of the use of social media for emergencies, such as Pandemic H1N1 and the Haitian earthquake, Theresa Bernardo discusses its potential to promote healthy people, communities, environments and economies.