Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Christine Stauber, PhD

Second Advisor

Dr. Erica Rose, PhD

Third Advisor

Dr. Daniel Weller, PhD


INTRODUCTION: Over the past decade, changes to surveillance systems and increased research studies examining health inequities across foodborne illnesses have created a new opportunity for additional research on this topic. There is a growing interest in using this lens to understand foodborne illness in the United States and the inclusion of variables such as race and ethnicity in active surveillance systems can help.

AIM: The purpose of this thesis was to identify current trends of documenting disparities of foodborne illness across populations and evaluate the mechanism of data representations through a literature review. To further explore the topics identified in the literature review, an analysis of salmonellosis data on the county level was conducted.

METHODS: The literature review was conducted as a pseudo-systematic review with the use of keywords and a restricted year timeline. For the salmonellosis analyses, the Laboratory-based Enteric Disease Surveillance (LEDS) system dataset was aggregated to the county-level for each year between 1997 and 2018, and joined with relevant metadata, including census data on race and ethnicity, CDC data on county urbanicity and social vulnerability indices (SVI), and USDA data on food environment.

RESULTS: Disparities of foodborne illnesses across racial and minority populations are prevalent across studies included in the literature review. Of the 35 studies reviewed, methods of racial and ethnic representation were inconsistent throughout with practices of collapsing and removal of different minority and ethnic groupings due to low numbers. The salmonellosis analysis found disparities of geometric mean salmonellosis incidence across both social vulnerability index themes and food insecurity variables when examined across levels of urbanicity.

DISCUSSION: Evidence of disparities in the burden of foodborne illnesses are prevalent in literature. The categorization of race and ethnicity is inconsistent across studies which may cause misrepresentation of these disparities. Understanding the influence of these socioeconomic, geographical, and environmental factors on the incidence of salmonellosis may help us understand the reason for differences in burden across populations with different community demographics.


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