205264 Review of State Plans for Food Safety: Is Our Food Supply Really Safe?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jennifer K. Ibrahim, PhD MPH MA , Department of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Fanta Waterman Purayidathil, MPH , Department of Health, Physical Education and Dance, Queensborough Community College of the City University of New York, Bayside, NY
Background: Unintentional food contamination is a pressing public health concern. Tainted food products resulting from unhealthy field and production practices have recently resulted in morbidity and mortality throughout the country. The purpose of this study is to review states' plans for food safety, evaluate adherence to current recommendations and discuss the relationships between government and private industry to protect the public from food contamination.

Methods: Using the November 2007 “Food Protection Plan” developed by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration, we compared eight recommended areas of prevention, intervention and response to current state plans. Individual websites of the Departments of Agriculture and Departments of Health for each state were searched to obtain copies of the most recent version of food safety plans.

Results: All 50 states maintained response plans that addressed at least one of the recommended areas of prevention. While steps for identifying contamination were frequently included, increased surveillance and prevention practices were incorporated less often. Additionally, there was little evidence of formal communications or training opportunities with neighboring states, despite the overlap in food supplies and transportation of food across state lines; this was also true for private industry.

Conclusion: Given the morbidity and mortality associated with recent food contaminations, there is a need for greater vigilance in protecting the food supply. State governments must work with neighboring states and private industry to create an improved system of prevention and response, incorporating recommendations and developing new ways to protect the public.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe current recommendations for food safety policy and programming, including prevention, intervention and response. 2. Analyze the current state food safety plans to determine compliance with recommended practices, as well as innovative steps to protect the public from food contamination. 3. Discuss the gaps in state planning to ensure a safe food supply for the public.

Keywords: Food Safety, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an Assistant Professor in Public Health Policy and have spent a portion of the last 3 years examining food safety policy in the private industry and within state government. I have been PI on a food safety grant examining the relationships between private industry and the government when responding to a food contamination and I am the senior author on a paper in Press at the Journal of Environmental Health which examines food safety and practices in the field.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.