On October 4th, the FDA and CDC announced that the agencies have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding, renewing their collaboration to reduce the occurrence of foodborne illness in retail and foodservice establishments. The stated purpose of the partnership is to “help increase the consistency and capacity of retail food protection programs across the country, promote a general culture of food safety, and facilitate continued communication between the FDA and CDC in order to assist state, local, tribal, territorial, and industry partners.”
More specifically, the agencies’ goals related to reducing occurrence of foodborne illness are as follows:
- Increase uniformity, consistency, and capacity of state, tribal, local, and territorial (STLT) retail food protection programs;
- Promote industry’s active managerial control (AMC) of foodborne illness risk factors and promote a culture of food safety; and
- Maintain a strong FDA National Retail Food Team (NRFT) and CDC National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) workforce to assist STLT partners.
The stated objectives include the following:
- Improve STLT’s effectiveness in conducting risk-based inspections and foodborne illness investigations.
- Promote a culture of food safety and food safety management systems within retail and foodservice establishments (including facilities that serve highly susceptible populations (HSP) such as institutional foodservice, correctional facilities, schools, and healthcare facilities).
- Improve research in support of foodborne illness risk factor reduction.
- Improve the knowledge, skills, and abilities of FDA NRFT and CDC NCEH staff.
While state, local, and tribal authorities are generally charged with inspecting retail and institutional food facilities, FDA provides oversight and guidance by way of the Model Food Code and the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards. In addition, companies or individuals who are looking to get up to speed or follow along with retail food safety regulatory issues should check out the Retail Food Safety Collaborative page for tools and resources.