Friday, March 12, 2010

CDC uses shopper-card data to trace salmonella

As they scrambled recently to trace the source of a salmonella outbreak that has sickened hundreds around the country, investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention successfully used a new tool for the first time — the shopper cards that millions of Americans swipe every time they buy groceries.

With permission from the patients, investigators followed the trail of grocery purchases to a Rhode Island company that makes salami, then zeroed in on the pepper used to season the meat.

Never before had the CDC successfully mined the mountain of data that supermarket chains compile. 

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