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Let's Explore Environmental Public Health

The environment where we live, work, and play affects our health. The Rhode Island Environmental Public Health Tracking Network makes connections between health and the environment. Our data can be used to:

Spotlight Data

Using Food Illness Complaints to Detect Outbreaks

Key Findings

Since 2010, RIDOH has received an average of 177 complaints of foodborne illness each year. People who believe they are sick from something they ate (food poisoning or foodborne illness) should report it through RIDOH’s foodborne illness complaint system either by phone at 401-222-2749 or through our online form.

RIDOH’s online foodborne illness complaint form was developed to make it easier for people to submit complaints as quickly as possible. Foodborne illness complaints using RIDOH’s online form have increased from 0% of complaints in 2010 to 76% in 2022.

Since 2010, 78% of foodborne illness outbreaks in Rhode Island were detected from reports through the foodborne illness complaint system.

Why It Matters

Foodborne illness complaint systems play a vital role in detecting and stopping foodborne illness outbreaks. RIDOH uses the information provided to investigate the complaint and to detect outbreaks of foodborne disease. Reporting a foodborne illness to RIDOH can lead to faster detection of foodborne illness outbreaks, which can stop other people from getting sick too.

The foodborne illness complaint system only works if people use it to report illness. From 2010-2022, the foodborne illness complaint system received an average of 18.1 complaints per 100,000 people. This means that for every 100,000 people in Rhode Island, an average of 18.1 complaints of foodborne illness were reported to RIDOH, and it shows that Rhode Islanders are using the complaint system appropriately.

Take a closer look at the data. Read a data story.

In the News

June 6, 2023
What to know about asthma rates in RI and why Providence is an asthma 'hot spot'

Rhode Islanders with asthma have faced a challenging environment this spring as high pollen counts and smoke from wildfires in Canada can aggravate symptoms. And Rhode Island has a higher percentage of asthma sufferers than the national average, according to the state Department of Health. Providence, in particular, is an asthma "hot spot" for the state, the department says. Click here to read more about asthma rates in Rhode Island.

February 18, 2022
RIDOH Funds Community Schoolyard Greening and Cooling Projects

RIDOH's Environmental Public Health Tracking and Climate Change and Health programs are distributing small grants of $10,000 each to three Health Equity Zones and their partners to complete projects to help cool schoolyards, address inequities in greenspace and shade, build climate resilience, and educate students and teachers on the importance of trees, shade, and clean air for health.

The effects of extreme heat are not felt evenly across all neighborhoods. Schools located in areas with low tree canopy often lack outdoor green spaces where children can play and learn safely out of the sun; have hotter classrooms; and are subject to excessive heat for children when walking to and from school. Click here to learn more about this project.

October 29, 2021
RIDOH's Cake/Heavy Metal Poisoning Outbreak Published in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)

Recently, a study titled Cake Decorating Luster Dust Associated with Toxic Metal Poisonings Rhode Island and Missouri, 2018-2019 was published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). This details a foodborne outbreak investigation that was jointly conducted in 2018 by RIDOH’s Center for Food Protection, Center for Acute Infectious Disease Epidemiology, and the State Health Laboratories. Rhode Island’s investigation was the first to identify the "luster dust" cake decorating ingredient as an emerging risk for foodborne illness.

Press highlights include: