Response to Food Protection Task Force Conference Grant Program PA-09-123 Abstract The Tennessee Food Safety Task Force, represented and supported by partners in industry, federal, state, and local regulatory agencies and educational institutions, continues to lead efforts in Tennessee to enhance food safety and food defense by developing materials, holding tabletop exercises, and an annual food safety conference. The Task Force was initiated in 2002 and has been very successful. Task Force activities focus on issues at the state and local levels relating to various organizations and agencies and the roles and responsibilities they have related to food safety and food defense. The Task Force in Tennessee has engaged key stakeholders creating a network of members to address capacity and resource needs, outbreak coordination and investigations, information sharing and data collection, regulatory standards, communications and education, laboratory operations and coordination, and state and local training needs for epidemiology and outbreak investigations. Issues are addressed by stakeholders in face to face meetings and by conference calls as well as the annual food safety conference. The next conference entitled, The Future of Food Safety - Sorting Through the Food Safety Maze is scheduled to be held in Nashville, Tennessee on May 12, 2010. The conference includes speakers from FDA, CDC, and industry. With ongoing and enhanced FDA funding, we will continue Task Force activities including sponsorship of subcommittees, workshops, and annual conferences. Major benefits of the Taskforce include the routine interaction and networking of representatives from academia and industry with representatives from state, local, and federal government. Because foodborne disease remains a serious public health threat and a threat to food producers and suppliers, it is critical to maintain this project and sustain the Taskforce activities, including annual conferences. Plans for a 2011 conference include outreach to other regional Task Force groups and an evaluation of the Task Forces'best practices and projects.
A primary objective of the Food Safety Taskforce has been to lead efforts in Tennessee to enhance food safety and security by networking in Tennessee, developing materials, holding tabletop exercises, and an annual conference. Despite the successes of the Task Force and accomplishments to date, foodborne disease remains a serious public health threat and a threat to food producers and suppliers.