Root cause analysis (RCA) is a method of problem-solving used to isolate the central “how” and “why” a given event occurred. While root cause analysis is used in various industries already, it has strong implications for helping researchers and investigators understand the central causes of events like food contamination and foodborne illness outbreaks. RCA is also useful for clarifying steps needed to correct the cause of a problem to prevent recurrence.
The Pew Research Center asserts that “learning from food contamination events and foodborne illness outbreaks helps uncover weaknesses in food safety systems and is a foundational property of a truly prevention-based system”. Adopting RCA can “foster collaboration, trust, and knowledge-sharing among food producers, regulatory and nonregulatory agencies, and consumers”.
In 2020, the Pew Research Center published “A Guide for Conducting a Food Safety Root Cause Analysis: Approaches for investigating contamination incidents and preventing recurrence” to “to improve food safety by encouraging the use of RCA in food operations and by safety regulators, and the sharing of information and lessons learned from these investigations”. The guide is available in web and PDF format by clicking the buttons below.