Government regulators said they upgraded an online reporting system to make it easier and faster to document foodborne illnesses and other safety matters.

The upgraded Web site, the Safety Reporting Portal, provides greater and easier access to online reporting, the Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health said in a joint statement May 24.

“The portal will be a key detection tool in improving the country’s nationwide surveillance system and will strengthen our ability to protect the nation’s health,” FDA commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said in the statement. “We will now be able to analyze human and animal safety-related events more quickly and identify those measures needed to protect the public.”

Through the portal, food and drug makers can report problems “that present a reasonable probability of causing serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals,” according to the statement.

Government food safety regulators have faced increased scrutiny in recent years amid illness outbreaks from food contaminated with E. coli, salmonella and other pathogens.

The recent upgrades are part of a longer-term project that will eventually merge the Web site with other reporting portals, said Pat El-Hinnawy, an FDA spokeswoman. Previous reporting systems were also Internet-based, but not as easy to use, she said.

Portal upgrades are a “first step toward a common electronic reporting system that will offer one-stop shopping, allowing an individual to file a single report to multiple agencies that may have an interest in the event,” according to the May 24 statement.

FDA releases enhanced food safety Web site