PROMOTING FOOD SAFETY THROUGH COLLABORATION
Published: May 10, 2016
The 2016 CFP Biennial Meeting in Boise, ID
By Jessica Fletcher, Chair of the Technical Advisory Committee on Food Safety
Having just returned from a week in Boise I want to share with you some of what occurred at the Biennial Meeting. In case you are not familiar with the Conference for Food Protection it is essentially the "Congress of Food Safety" where stakeholders in the realm of our retail food system are equally represented in a forum to discuss emerging food safety problems and to formulate recommendations and solutions. This is the mechanism by which the FDA Model Food Code and the Annex are developed and amended. Food safety-related issues are submitted by regulators, the food industry, academia or consumers, sorted into three categories and deliberated one at a time by a balanced council of regional representatives from local and state regulators, industry, academia, USDA, CDC, FDA and consumers. I was privileged to represent local inspectors from the Northeast Region on Council I. The debate is orderly and civil and everyone with an opinion is allowed to speak and is respectfully heard. After two and a half days of deliberations the issues are either accepted as submitted, accepted with amendments, or deemed "no action" (which means the issue is rejected). On the last day of the conference state delegates assemble to make the final decision on the council recommendations by voting "I" or "nay".
Last week in Boise there were 477 registered attendees representing 47 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Mariana Islands. Preceding the opening of the general session, nine speakers made presentations on "Trends and Innovation in Food Protection" including Dr. Arthur Liang from CDC and researchers from George Washington University, Purdue, and others discussing topics such as, "Biofilms in the Retail Environment", "Antimicrobial Resistance", and "Emerging Opportunistic Organisms". After two and a half days of council deliberations some of the proposed changes to the 2017 edition of the Food Code include requiring the Person in Charge be a certified food protection manager (issue II-025) and extending the exclusion period from 24 to 48 hours for food employees symptomatic with vomiting or diarrhea (issue III-016). On the final day of the conference the Assembly of Delegates extracted an issue from Council III that had been accepted as submitted. It was regarding the approval of pre-mixed sanitizers and was voted down ("killed") unanimously by the state delegates because the manufacturer does not provide a test kit for these products. This was pretty exciting because it demonstrated how the states can have the final word on proposed solutions.
It was disappointing to be the only local regulator in attendance from the Northeast Region and sad also that neither Consumer Protection nor the CT Department of Public Health sent a delegate to represent CT. (CT gets 2 half votes) All of the other states in the Northeast Region were represented and luckily, I could vote for CT by proxy so we were not left out of these proceedings. Now that CT is in the process of adopting the FDA Food Code it is time to get involved in this process because it is the best way to promote regulatory uniformity between states, regions, territories and tribal nations. You and your local health department can have a say in shaping our food safety regulations beginning in April, 2018 at the next CFP Biennial Meeting in Richmond, VA. For the first time the Conference will move to a Monday-Friday format which may make travel and time away from the office easier. The Biennial Meeting offers a full day workshop (CEU's!) and registration includes a two year CFP membership. In addition, FDA provides travel subsidies for delegates ($50,000 was provided for 54 delegates in Boise). It's long overdue that CT, along with the Northeast Region, gets more involved in this conference. I urge you to peruse the CFP website (foodprotect.org) and recognize all the great work your colleagues are doing throughout the country. Be sure not to miss the newly updated and soon to be available for use 2016 Restaurant Plan Review Guide!