There are two important pieces of information that the CDC needs to release so we can help it make sense of this outbreak.
The first is demographic information, particularly, the ethnic makeup of the sick people.
The second is the percentage of people who believe they became sick after eating at a restaurant as opposed to those who believe it was from food they purchased from a retail store.
Ethnicity is very helpful in identifying what foods we should be looking at. If the outbreak is composed of mainly elderly Jewish people, then tomato is often eaten with lox or nova salmon and cream cheese on a bagel.
If we are talking about new Mexican immigrants, we can pretty much not worry about the bagel and lox.
Retail and restaurants often have completely different products with a completely different supply chain.
All this information is not confidential — there is no reason not to release it, it is just a ”habit of secrecy” that we have to encourage FDA and CDC to overcome.
Solving these outbreaks fast is both a public health imperative and vital for industry. The single best way to do that is to share information with bright people around the world.
Industry efforts after this outbreak is over should focus on creating a “default position” of transparency. All information should be released unless there is a compelling reason not to release it.