MDPH intends to enhance its capacity for all-hazards food emergencies and foodborne illness outbreak response through improvements to the Massachusetts Rapid Response Team (RRT) in the Bureau of Environmental Health's Food Protection Program. While the RRT serves to rapidly and effectively address foodborne illness outbreaks, its combined capabilities are supported by a system of trainings, incident management, laboratory testing, traceback and recall operations, public and internal communications, and other functions that collaborate during an incident. As a result, this program not only will focus on the team itself, but on the underlying program structure of the BEH/FPP. Strengthening of core capacity through increasing compliance with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Manufactured Food Regulatory Program Standards (MFRPS) will also serve as the basis for food protection and emergency response capacity, and is essential to ongoing enhancements and more mature development of the RRT. Most importantly, this proposal seeks to enhance interagency collaboration among state, federal, and local public health partners, industry and other stakeholders. These include agencies and organizations in food manufacturing, distribution and protection in order to provide a technical and operational foundation for RRT development and maintenance. Measures to meet these goals and objectives will be carried out within the framework of the US FDA cooperative agreement. BEH/FPP anticipates that participation in this cooperative agreement will serve to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its core food protection efforts, particularly its manufactured food program. By reinforcing the RRT and developing plans to sustain its capacity, this cooperative agreement will strengthen all critical facets of the food protection program.
The cooperative agreement will strengthen interagency collaboration with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and enhance the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Bureau of Environmental Health, Food Protection Program's (BEH/FPP's) regulatory enforcement and environmental surveillance protection programs for manufactured food, while enhancing emergency foodborne illness outbreak response capacity. These goals will be met by promoting compliance with the Manufactured Food Regulatory Program Standards (MFRPS), and improving the effectiveness of the Massachusetts Rapid Response Team (RRT) model using the FDA Department of Federal and State Regulators (DFSR) assessment process and exercises, with active improvements to documented best practices.