Foodborne Outbreak Investigation: Effect of Recall Inaccuracies on Food Histories

J Food Prot. 2019 Jun;82(6):931-939. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-18-548.


Comparably low accuracy of dietary recall is present after 7 and 18 days. Experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms did not affect accuracy of dietary recall. Repeatedly recalling food exposures leads to a higher rate of false positives. Prevalence of exposure was associated with higher sensitivity and lower specificity. Recall inaccuracies can be quantified and accounted for in public health practice.

Keywords: Food history questionnaire; Foodborne illness; Investigation strategy; Outbreak investigation; Recall bias; Recall inaccuracies.

MeSH terms

  • Diet Records*
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Food / statistics & numerical data
  • Foodborne Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall*
  • Prevalence
  • Public Health* / methods