241522 Food safety and security in the 21st century: A local public health agency perspective on strategy and approach

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Paul A. Biedrzycki, MPH, MBA , Health Department, City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI
Jessica Drum, MA , Gryphon Scientific, Takoma Park, MD
Susan Blaustein, RS , Health Department, City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee
Julie Hults, RS , Health Department, City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee
The safety and security of the U.S. food supply are quickly becoming a concern for public health agencies at every level of government. Recent nationwide outbreaks of Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 draw attention to the fact that the “farm-to-fork” food production and delivery system are riddled with vulnerabilities. Creating additional concern is the specter of intentional contamination of food supplies and systems as part of a bioterrorism resolve. The potential for large-scale intentional contamination, especially using a contaminant with no known medical countermeasures, is not well-understood but potentially catastrophic. Local public health agencies (LPHAs), long at the forefront in the protection of consumers from food-borne illness through field inspection programs, are poorly equipped in terms of both capacity and capability to address substantial challenges in this arena. It is important that any efforts to address the threat posed by intentional contamination takes into consideration the needs, capabilities and limitations of the wide variety of stakeholders involved in America's food system. Federal agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with Congress, have recently catalyzed efforts to improve and harden food defense within the U.S. as reflected by the recent passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010 (SB510). The FDA also conducted two 50-State Meetings on food safety to develop coherent strategies to integrate the work of federal, state and local agencies. LPHAs in particular must rethink and retool their strategy and approach to mount successful defenses against both natural and man-made threats. Training in the Incident Command System (ICS), participating in state and local fusion center activities, and developing collaborative initiatives between LPHAs, industry and federal regulatory agencies will only improve preparedness and response related to food safety and security in the 21st century.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health biology
Public health or related education
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Describe current vulnerabilities and threats to food supply and system within the United States today. Discuss challenges and progress faced by local public health agencies in developing food safety and security strategies. List key stakeholders necessary to address vulnerabilities and reduce threats related to potential intentional contamination of food supply or systems. Explain key strategic goals outlined in the FDA 50-State Meetings developed to improve food safety and security and improve intergovernmental cooperation.

Keywords: Food Security, Food Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I serve as Director of Disease Control and Environmental Health for the City of Milwaukee Health Department and oversee programs in emergency preparedness and food safety and security within the community. I have also worked on federal workgroups related to food security and defense.
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.