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FDA Awards $17.5 Million to Further Food, Feed Safety

The Food and Drug Administration recently announced that it has awarded 83 grants in FY2009 totaling $17.5 million to state and local regulatory agencies to boost food and feed safety initiatives among federal, state, and local partners.

The grants fund major cooperative agreements in four major areas: response, intervention, innovation, and prevention.

"These cooperative agreements support and enhance local food safety efforts," said Michael Chappell, FDA's acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. "The grants are another step in the FDA’s continuing efforts to build an integrated food safety system between federal, state, and local partners."

The grants and their recipients include:

Response: Rapid Response Teams
The Food Protection Rapid Response Team (RRT) and Program Infrastructure Improvement Prototype Project cooperative agreements will develop, implement, exercise, and integrate an all-hazards food and foodborne illness response capability to more rapidly react to potential threats to our food supply. The RRT, designed to operate in conjunction with other food and feed agencies within state programs, other state RRTs, FDA district offices, and state emergency operations centers, is another tool to enhance response capabilities.

An RRT responds to food hazard incidents in the farm-to-table continuum of food production and delivery by using an incident command structure response protocol, which is a formalized crisis management system. Each recipient received up to $500,000 to exercise its response team, conduct a program assessment, purchase additional equipment and supplies, fund personnel, and train and share information and data as appropriate.

States funded in FY2009 include Virginia, Texas, and Washington. Those states join six other states already receiving funds under the program.

Intervention: Food Safety and Security Monitoring (FERN)
The grants for Food Safety and Security Monitoring provide funding to Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) laboratories. FERN laboratories provide additional capacity for analyzing food samples in the event of food-borne disease outbreaks or other large-scale food emergency events. These samples could be foods and/or environmental samples related to foods, and will be collected by federal, state, or local agencies. Numbers of samples and scheduling of samples will be done by the FERN National Program Office in coordination with state/local laboratory authorities. Federal or state surveillance assignments will also be a source of samples for lab analysis. Selected laboratories received up to $350,000 in grant funds. The grants are for microbiological, chemical, or radiological analysis capacity.

  • Microbiology Program

    The FY2009 grants of up to $250,000 were made to: Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

  • Chemistry Program

    Arkansas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin received grants in FY2009. These three states join 10 other states with existing grants.

  • Radiological Program

    Five states with existing grants received continued funding but no new grants were awarded in FY2009.

Innovation: Innovative Food Defense
The Innovative Food Defense Projects grants are awarded to generate products that complement, develop, or improve State and local food defense programs. These products could then be applied to food defense programs nationwide. One example is the food defense program in food establishments called the Assure, Look, Employees, Reports, and Threat (ALERT); and, Employees Follow, Inspect, Recognize, Secure, and Tell (FIRST). Each recipient received up to $62,500.

The funded counties were Riverside County (California) Department of Environmental Health and Westchester County (New York) Department of Health. States receiving funds included Wisconsin and North Carolina.

Prevention: Food Protection Task Force Program
The Food Protection Task Force Conference program supports meetings that foster communication, cooperation, and collaboration among state, local, and tribal food protection, public health, agriculture, and regulatory agencies. The meetings are designed to:

  • Provide a forum for all the stakeholders of the food protection system--regulatory agencies, academia, industry, consumers, state legislators, boards of health and agriculture, and other interested parties;
  • Assist in adopting or implementing the Food Code and other food protection regulations;
  • Promote the integration of an efficient statewide food protection/defense system that maximizes the protection of the public health through prevention, intervention, and response; and
  • Detect and contain of foodborne illness early.

Pennsylvania and New Hampshire were selected to receive awards up to $5,000 in FY2009. These two states join 22 other states and the District of Columbia with existing grants.

For more information, click here.

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