Disparities in foodborne illness in Harris County, Texas, 2005–2010

Elise Russo, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Using a retrospective cross-sectional approach, this study quantitatively analyzed foodborne illness data, restaurant inspection data, and census-derived socioeconomic and demographic data within Harris County, Texas between 2005 and 2010. The main research question investigated involved determining the extent to which contextual and regulatory conditions distinguish outbreak and non-outbreak establishments within Harris County. Two groups of Harris County establishments were analyzed: outbreak and non-outbreak restaurants. STATA 11 was employed to determine the average profiles of each category across both the regulatory and socioeconomic (contextual) variables. Cross tabulations of all of the non-quantitative variables were also performed, and finally, a discriminant analysis was conducted to assess how well the variables were able to allocate the restaurants into their respective categories. Contextual and regulatory conditions were found to be minimally associated with the occurrence of foodborne outbreaks within Harris County. Across both the categories (outbreak and non-outbreak establishments), variables included were extremely similar in means, and when possible to observe, distributions. The variables analyzed in this study, both regulatory and contextual, were not found to significantly allocate the establishments into their correct outbreak or non-outbreak categories. The implications of these findings are that regulatory processes and guidelines in place in Harris County do not effectively to distinguish outbreak from non-outbreak restaurants. Additionally, no socioeconomic or racial/ethnic patterns are apparent in the incidence of foodborne disease in the county.

Subject Area

Public health|Epidemiology

Recommended Citation

Russo, Elise, "Disparities in foodborne illness in Harris County, Texas, 2005–2010" (2012). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1516393.