Foodborne illness in the United States is estimated to sicken 48 million people, and cause more than 128,000 hospitalizations, and lead to 3,000 deaths every year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that foodborne illnesses cost more than $15.6 billion each year. Local health departments (LHDs) work each day to ensure the safety of the food that we eat. According to the National Association of County and City Health Officials’ (NACCHO’s) 2019 National Profile of LHDs, 78% of local health departments provide regulation, inspection, and licensing services of food service establishments and provide food safety education. Additionally, LHDs work with state, local, tribal, and national partners as well as the industry sector to prevent, identify, and respond to outbreaks of food-borne illness.
NACCHO strives to support and work with LHDs to improve food safety and prevent foodborne illness. One way this is accomplished is through NACCHO’s Food Safety Toolkit, a repository of information, data, and projects from across the country on food safety.
About the Food Safety Toolkit
In 2019, NACCHO worked with the organization’s Food Safety Workgroup, whose members are local health department officials, sanitarians, environmental health professionals, and environmental health directors interested in enhancing food safety policies and practices, to review the Toolkit for gaps and to update outdated resources. The gaps identified in the toolkit included resources in the following categories:
- Tabletop exercises/Drills
- Food security
- Edible marijuana
- Food additives
- Mobile foods
- Temporary events
- Homeless feeding
- Third party delivery services
- Plan review of food service establishments, retail food stores, and other food operations
- Community engagement
What Can You Do?
NACCHO is actively seeking resources that your organization has created (with focus on the above listed gaps) to be included in the Food Safety Toolkit. To submit a resource to the Toolkit, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a link or copy of the resource, along with a 2-3 sentence description.
A selection of the resources available through the Food Safety Toolkit are highlighted below.
Maricopa County Environmental Services Department Active Managerial Control Toolbox
Maricopa County Environmental Services Department has been working on a five year FDA Cooperative Agreement Grant to develop an Active Managerial Control Toolbox which provides food safety tools to develop policies, train on those policies, and verify that the policies are working. This toolbox is exactly what you need to fix food safety breakdowns that have occurred in your establishment. Maricopa has developed resources focused on the most common food safety breakdowns. In this toolbox, you will find videos, guidance documents, posters, and templates, all designed to help operators organize their procedures and develop AMC food safety systems specific to their businesses.
Foodborne Disease Interview Forms
The Minnesota Food Safety Center of Excellence website link provides questionnaires for campylobacter, cryptosporidium, listeria, salmonella, and shigella cases. The questionnaires contain detailed food exposure questions, including open-ended food histories and objective yes/no questions about numerous specific food items, as well as brand/variety names and purchase locations. Shorter questionnaires are used to interview cases with other pathogens
Food Safety at Temporary Events
This guidance by the International Association for Food Protection provides a 14-step guide, based on recommendations by food safety experts will help you keep your temporary event free of the risk of foodborne illness.
Environmental Assessment Just-In-Time Training
The Colorado Integrated Food Safety Centers of Excellence created this training targeted to environmental health professionals conducting environmental assessments for foodborne disease outbreak investigations. This just-in-time model provides a succinct, “on-the-go” training for environmental health professionals to refresh their skills on a variety of processes critical to conducting an environmental assessment.
The training has been divided into 12 core topics. It is not required to take the sequentially or in total. Each topic can be accessed individually based on the needs of the environmental health professional.
The environmental assessment Just-in-Time Training was developed by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) Food Safety Working Group.
Stay Connected with NACCHO!
Check out monthly featured food safety tools from other local health departments and partners by signing up for NACCHO’s Food Safety Leaders’ List (FSLL) Newsletter.