Food Safety and Defense

Foodborne illness in the United States is estimated to sicken 48 million people, cause more than 128,000 hospitalizations, and lead to 3,000 deaths every year. Hospitalizations due to foodborne illnesses are estimated to cost more than $3 billion dollars, and lost productivity is estimated to cost between $20 billion and $40 billion each year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that foodborne illnesses are costing the United States economy more than $15.6 billion annually. NACCHO strives to support and work with local health departments to improve food safety and prevent foodborne illness.

See all of NACCHO's food safety resources for local health departments here.

Get Involved

2022 FDA Retail Food Protection Seminar

Hosted by NACCHO, join the FDA from September 19-22 for this virtual and free seminar which will focus on norovirus and foodborne illnesses.

Get Involved

2022 FDA Retail Food Protection Seminar

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Funding Opportunity

NEHA-FDA Retail Flexible Funding Model Grant Program Year 2

Application period now open through October 12, 2022! Visit the Retail Grants webpage for program resources, training options, and to apply.

Funding Opportunity

NEHA-FDA Retail Flexible Funding Model Grant Program Year 2

Take Action

Virtual Inspections of Food Service Establishments

See how virtual inspections can provide an opportunity for regulatory activity to continue during a public health emergency.

Take Action

Virtual Inspections of Food Service Establishments

Read

Handling Retail Food Safety during a Public Health Emergency

This publication lays out recommendations for how retail food safety regulatory programs can be better prepared for the next public health emergency.

Read

Handling Retail Food Safety during a Public Health Emergency

Download

Retail Food Safety: An Emergency Preparedness Checklist

LHDs may work toward implementing these six recommendations to improve retail food safety activities & strengthen preparedness for the next emergency.

Download

Retail Food Safety: An Emergency Preparedness Checklist

Learn More

An Evaluation of Existing Retail Program Standards Networks

Find out if state and local retail food regulatory programs participating in Retail Program Standards networks benefited from being a part of it!

Learn More

An Evaluation of Existing Retail Program Standards Networks

Fast food inspection illustration

Newly Released

Impact Study: Implementation of Risk Intervention Strategies

New research provides key insight into how most local jurisdictions target risk factors during retail food regulatory inspections.

Newly Released

Impact Study: Implementation of Risk Intervention Strategies

NACCHO’s mentorship program has historically supported local health departments pursuing the Food and Drug Administration’s Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards. The program has provided opportunities for local health department staff to learn about the NACCHO Mentorship Program through active participation and training, to share experiences, tools and, and to support the ongoing effort to increase use of the standards nationwide. Local health departments seeking assistance are matched with seasoned peer mentors to help progress the work toward meeting the retail program standards while building sustained capacity within the health department. Mentors assist mentees in preparing self-assessments and verification audits and in developing improvement plans.

NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program Logo

NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program Year 2 Application Open Now

The NEHA-FDA Retail Flexible Funding Model Grant Program applications for Year 2 are now open through October 12 (7:59 pm EDT). The RFFM grant program is a funding opportunity for state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions working towards conformance with the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (Retail Program Standards) to enhance their efforts to reduce foodborne illness.

Funding opportunities for the 2023 project period include multiple 1-year grants. Two application tracks are available for Development base grant funding depending on the jurisdiction’s current level of conformance with the Retail Program Standards. Optional add-on grants are also offered for Mentorship, Special Projects, and Training.

Visit the Retail Grants webpage for program resources, training options, and the latest updates.

For additional inquiries, contact the NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program Support Team via email at retailgrants@neha.org or toll-free at (833) 575-2404.

For webinars related to the Retail Program Standards, visit our mentorship program webpage.

Sharing Sessions on Retail Food Safety (May and June 2022)

  • Part 1: Breaking the Barriers to Implementing Risk-Based Inspections in Retail Food Safety
  • Part 2: A Retrospective Look at How Local Retail Food Regulatory Programs Used Risk Factor Intervention Strategies

On May 26, 2022, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the Conference for Food Protection (CFP), hosted an online sharing session on factors influencing the implementation of risk-based inspections. This sharing session focused on the results of a study conducted in 2021 by NACCHO and CFP to identify, better understand, and assess the application of risk-based inspection methods currently employed by local retail food regulatory programs while seeking to identify the overarching barriers preventing application of risk-based inspection methods. Nine jurisdictions were interviewed, and the participants identified 15 barriers to the implementation of risk-based inspection methods. This sharing session discussed five strategies to overcome these barriers.

On June 2, 2022, NACCHO and CFP presented a webinar on the use of risk factor intervention strategies within local retail food regulatory programs. Presenters from NACCHO and CFP discussed the findings of their study conducted in 2021, which aimed to assess jurisdictions’ use of risk factor interventions, including how they were created, implemented, and evaluated for effectiveness.

View the Webinar Recordings:

Sharing Session on Climate Change and Food Safety (April 2022)
NACCHO, with the support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hosted an online sharing session on the intersection of climate change and food safety. The following presentations provided examples of the science behind climate change, its impact on the environment and our health, and what this means for food safety and food security. The sharing session also explained some of the recent expansion of climate change work at the federal level and helped provide context on how current food safety issues experienced at the local level are linked to climate change.

Sharing Session on the Retail Program Standards Clearinghouse (June 2021)
NACCHO, with the support of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), presented a webinar on the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (Retail Program Standards) Clearinghouse Work Group. Presenters from the FDA discussed the role of the FDA Retail Food Specialists, the purpose of the Clearinghouse, how to navigate the Clearinghouse Questions and Answers document, and who makes up the Clearinghouse Work Group.

Sharing Session - Edible Marijuana (June 2021)
NACCHO and the National Environmental Health Association, with the support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hosted an online sharing session on edible marijuana. The sharing session featured presentations from the Colorado Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence, the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment about the potential associated food safety hazards. Participants heard about edible-associated illness outbreaks and other contamination events. Participants also learned about steps being taken in Colorado to ensure the safe production and packaging of edible marijuana, including laboratory testing practices and the roles and responsibilities of different agencies.

Specialized Food Processes- Acidified Foods (May 2021)
Acidified foods are considered risky because a product that is not produced correctly may cause serious illness to those who consume it. For this reason, acidified foods have their own specific set of regulations as outlined by the Code of Federal Regulations and in the Food Code (Special Processes 3-502.11). This online sharing session provided local retail food regulators with high-level food safety knowledge and understanding regarding acidified foods.

Specialized Food Processes - Charcuterie (July 2020)
Curing, smoking, and drying of meat, poultry, and fish are considered specialized processes under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Model Food Code. This virtual online sharing session focused on the science and proper implementation of charcuterie and was presented by Dr. Brian Nummer from the Utah State University Food Safety Extension.

COVID-19: Guidance for Agricultural Workers and Employers and Testing Strategy for COVID-19 in High-Density Critical Infrastructure Workplaces (June 2020)

This webinar highlighted the CDC and OSHA Interim Guidance for Agricultural Workers and Employers, and the CDC’s Testing Strategy for Coronavirus (COVID-19) in High-Density Critical Infrastructure Workplaces, both of which are particularly relevant given the importance of these essential workers, and as the summer growing season begins.

COVID-19 and Food Safety (April 2020)
This webinar featured a panel of food safety experts that presented on food safety considerations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics that were addressed included what is known about basic food safety and contact surface sanitation issues and what local retail food regulators can do to minimize the impact of COVID-19 in food establishments. Participants had the opportunity to exchange ideas with their peers virtually throughout the session and to ask questions. Presenters included Dr. Brian Nummer from the Utah State University Food Safety Extension, Ben Chapman from North Carolina University, and Dr. Donald Schaffner from Rutgers University.

A Multidisciplinary Approach to Investigating Foodborne Illness Outbreaks (June 2019)
This webinar focused on a multidisciplinary approach to investigating foodborne illness outbreaks. This approach involves staff from environmental health, epidemiology, laboratory, and communications allowing local health departments to efficiently detect cases and mitigate future exposures. The session featured Public Health – Seattle & King County’s (PHSKC) experience partnering across these four main disciplines (four legged stool) to address foodborne illnesses in their community as it unfolds live from the start of notification to conclusion, including successes, challenges, and lessons learned.

Fermentation/Curing Webinar (April 2019)
This webinar focused on fermentation and curing of foods at retail food establishments. Presenters discussed the science and proper implementation of fermentation and curing and a local health department's HACCP plan review processes for retail establishments using specialized processes. Presenters included Dr. Brian Nummer from the Utah State University Food Safety Extension and Zachary Lustgarten from the Boulder County Public Health in Colorado.

Reduced Oxygen Packaging (April 2018)
Reduced Oxygen Packaging (ROP) such as vacuum packaging, cook-chill and sous vide processes are considered specialized processes under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Model Food Code. The use of ROP has become increasingly popular in restaurants across the nation. Building a positive relationship between industry members and regulators is an important component in making sure ROP is implemented correctly for consumer food safety. During the first portion of the sharing session, food safety experts Chef Don Brizes and Chef Robert Brener provided an industry perspective of implementing ROP in the restaurant. The second portion featured a presentation from Vas Hofer on Maricopa County, AZ’s Variance and HACCP plan review processes for restaurants using ROP.

Development of Standards for Cannabis-Infused Products (January 2018)
ASTM is currently the organization taking the lead to develop standards as it relates to cannabis and cannabis-infused products. Hear from ASTM Committee D37 on Cannabis as to what ASTM is doing to develop cannabis standards, what areas they are developing cannabis standards in, timeline expected, and how you can get involved. You will also hear from NEHA on useful cannabis-infused product tools and resources currently in development for state and local regulatory programs.

This webinar was held in collaboration with the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), and ASTM.

State-Level Variation in the Regulation of Edible Cannabis Products (November 2017)
This webinar features a presentation on how how states regulate the ways in which edible cannabis products used for medicinal or recreational purposes are cultivated, labeled, packaged, distributed and sold, with respect to THC limits and homogeneity requirements, labeling and packaging requirements, and pesticide testing. The webinar also discusses an online survey of cannabis dispensary staff, including data pertaining to risk disclosure and labeling practices for edible products.

This webinar was held in collaboration with the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), and RTI International.

Edible Marijuana Webinar (June 2017)
This webinar focused on edible marijuana. With the legalization of recreational marijuana in states across the country, many public health professionals now face new health concerns and issues in their communities. The first presentation discussed on the changing state regulations and the governmental entities involved in regulating edible marijuana. In the second presentation, the Denver Department of Environmental Health discussed the food safety-related issues surrounding edible marijuana in their community.

Speakers included Karmen Hanson, MA, Program Director, National Conference of State Legislatures and Danica Lee, Director, Public Health Inspections Division, Department of Environmental Health, City and County of Denver.

Active Managerial Control Webinar (May 2017)

This webinar focused on Active Managerial Control (AMC). Annex 4 of the FDA Food Code cites the common goal of regulators and industry as producing safe, quality food for customers and credits AMC over foodborne illness risk factors as the best way to accomplish this goal. The first presentation highlighted how the Fairfax County Health Department in Virginia recognizes its responsibility to promote and encourage AMC within food service operations and tackles this initiative through providing industry education, offering AMC tools and resources, and administering AMC recognition and voluntary enrollment programs. In the second presentation, Dr. Hal King provided a retail food establishment operator’s perspective on Active Managerial Control.

    Food Defense Community of Practice Webinar (2017)

    This webinar features a presentation from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, Ohio on how they have partnered with its food retailers and the FDA to establish retail food defense in order to prevent intentional contamination of the local food supply.

    Food Truck Webinar (June 2016)
    This webinar focused on local regulatory issues dealing with mobile food units. The first presentation highlighted how local regulatory agencies in southern New Jersey addressed challenges with mobile food units by forming a regional mobile task force to standardize mobile food establishment processes and applications.The second presentation focused on challenges with local regulation from the perspective of mobile food unit owners and managers and how regulators and industry can work together to ensure food safety.

    Cottage Foods Webinar (April 2016)
    This webinar focused on local and state food safety regulatory perspectives and concerns related to cottage foods. The presentation will highlight state cottage food regulations implemented across the nation; how one state health department has partnered with local health departments to regulate, educate, and enforce cottage food laws; and the experience of a local health department in a “food freedom” bill state.

    Raw Milk Series (April-May 2015)
    This webinar series focused on the legal and regulatory issues with raw milk. The first session provided a general overview of raw milk regulation in the United States, as well as a detailed account of recent raw milk regulations and outbreaks in Utah. The second session examined health department experiences responding to outbreaks associated with raw milk and working with communities impacted by outbreaks, as well as legislating its consumption.

    For webinars related to the Retail Program Standards, go to the mentorship program webpage.

    Handling Retail Food Safety During a Public Health Emergency: Recommendations for Local Retail Food Regulatory Programs

    The COVID-19 pandemic was an extremely challenging period for public health agencies throughout the world and it highlighted serious flaws in their ability to respond to community needs. Environmental health managers in the U.S. have had to balance the risk of exposing sanitarians to COVID-19 during in-person food safety inspections with the reward of protecting the public from foodborne pathogens. This publication contains recommendations from the field to help local retail food regulatory programs become better prepared for the next public health emergency. NACCHO is grateful to members of its Food Safety Workgroup for their valuable input.

    Looking for a quick-hit summary of the recommendations? Click here to download and print our checklist covering six recommendations from partnerships to reporting workplace harassment.

    Checklist: Virtual Inspections of Food Service Establishments Through Risk-Based Inspections

    When conducting inspections of food service establishments, it is important that local health departments (LHDs) utilize risk-based inspection methods (RBIs) to focus on factors that directly impact public health. The basis of RBIs is to observe behaviors, practices, and procedures that could lead to poorly managed risk factors and to look at the whole food establishment as a system rather than individual components. However, it may not be possible for these specific tasks of RBI methods to be reasonably conducted within a virtual setting—a challenge that many LHDs experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Find out how virtual inspections can help regulatory activity continue during a public health emergency at bit.ly/virtualfoodsafetyinspections.

    An Evaluation of Existing Retail Program Standards Networks

    A new issue brief investigates the benefits of state and local retail food regulatory programs participating in state- and region-wide networks aimed at achieving conformance with the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards. The goal of this study was to unveil the benefits of working in collaboration with other jurisdictions when working towards achieving conformance with the Retail Program Standards and to highlight best practices that resulted from being a part of these networks. NACCHO and the Conference for Food Protection (CFP) led and authored this study.

    Learn more and access the brief at bit.ly/RPSNissuebrief.

    Analysis of Factors Influencing the Implementation of Risk-Based Inspections

    To aid the expansion of state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) regulatory programs using risk-based inspections (RBIs) to advance smarter food safety, NACCHO and CFP conducted a study in 2021 to identify, better understand, and assess the application of RBI methods currently employed by local retail food regulatory programs while seeking to identify the overarching barriers preventing application of RBI methods.

    View the report.

    View the infographic for local health departments.

    Factors Associated with Local Health Departments’ Initial and Continual Enrollment in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards: A Qualitative Study

    This study reveals why some local health departments unenroll or never enroll in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards.

    View the study.

    COVID-19 Impact on Local Retail Regulatory Food Safety Programs

    Food safety programs responding to NACCHO's COVID-19 assessment in 2020 noted that they have experienced varying levels of impact to their routine operations.

    View the Report.

    2018 Continuous Improvement of Retail Food Safety Assessment

    NACCHO conducted an assessment to understand how local, state, tribal, and territorial governmental public health agencies are using the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (Retail Program Standards) as a tool for fostering continuous improvement in their retail food regulatory programs.

    View the assessment.

    Retail Food Establishment Scoring, Grading, and Placarding Studies

    NACCHO, with support from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), conducted research to learn more about scoring, grading, and placarding systems used by retail food regulatory programs in the United States. Read the research briefs and case studies available below.

    Additional Resources

    The Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response (CIFOR) is a multidisciplinary collaboration of national associations and local, state and federal agencies representing epidemiology programs, environmental health programs, public health laboratories, and regulatory agencies. Since 2006, CIFOR has worked together to improve methods to detect, investigate, control, and prevent foodborne disease outbreaks. The food industry is represented on the CIFOR Industry Workgroup.

    Sign up to receive updates on new CIFOR resources, funding opportunities, and events.

    CIFOR identifies barriers to rapid detection and response to foodborne disease outbreaks and develops products that address these barriers. Some of the Council’s products include:

    Are you a leader or champion for food safety? NACCHO’s Food Safety Leaders have the opportunity to provide input on positions and advocacy efforts that help to shape policy at local health departments across the nation; they also receive updates on food safety news, policy updates, events, and call-to-action items.

    Follow the instructions below to subscribe to the Food Safety Leaders' List:

    1. Log in to MyNACCHO (or create a free account).
    2. Go to “My Subscriptions.”
    3. Check the box next to the Food Safety Leaders' List (any other e-newsletters you wish you receive).
    4. Click “Save” at the bottom of the page.

    NACCHO's Food Safety Toolkit is a free, online collection of local public health tools produced by members of the public health community. Tools can be used by public health professionals and other external stakeholders to improve their work in the promotion and advancement of food safety objectives. Tools include case studies, presentations, fact sheets, drills, evaluations, protocols, templates, reports, and training materials.

    In 2019, NACCHO worked with the organization’s Food Safety Workgroup 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

    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 foodsafetyinfo@naccho.org with a link or copy of the resource, along with a 2-3 sentence description.

    Access the Toolkit:

    Visit NACCHO's Toolbox and select "Food Safety Toolkit" from the Toolkits dropdown.

    NACCHO’s Food Safety Workgroup provides leadership and guidance to NACCHO, local health departments, and partner organizations regarding food safety efforts, health outcomes, and implications at the local level. Membership includes local health department officials, sanitarians, environmental health professionals, and environmental health directors who are interested in enhancing food safety policies and practices. The workgroup holds quarterly conference calls, and works in between meetings. In addition, review of documents and participation in judging model practice applications will be required throughout the year. Appointment is for a two-year term with an option for reappointment to a second two-year term. Message Chelsea Gridley-Smith for more information.

    Click here to access policy statements that demonstrate NACCHO's commitment to food safety in local communities.

    Environmental Health Program

    Chelsea Gridley-Smith

    Director of Environmental Health

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    Environmental Health Program

    Nicholas Adams

    Senior Program Analyst, Environmental Health

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    Environmental Health Program

    Stephanie Puwalski

    Program Analyst, Environmental Health

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    Environmental Health Program

    Olivia Turay

    Program Analyst, Environmental Health

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