As of July 1, 2012, the Department contracts with 24 local health departments to perform retail food licensing, inspections, and enforcement in 3 cities and 58 of Iowa's 99 counties. The Department directly performs the retail inspections, licensing, and enforcement in 41 of 99 counties including state's most populous county Polk County which includes Des Moines. The state directly inspects 39% of food establishments or approximately 8,000 and the 24 local governments inspect 12,500. The Department currently employs 17 individuals that routinely complete retail food inspections. The local health agencies employ over 50 additional inspectors who complete retail food inspections. Since 2005, all Iowa jurisdictions providing licensing, inspections, and enforcement have used a single data system that includes licensing, mobile inspections via tablet laptop computers, and a public access portal for inspection data. The system, while on the leading edge of technology for 2003-2005 when it was developed, has outlived is useful life. The system's platform is not compatible with current information systems. Implementation of a new computer can assist with the implementation and enhancement of virtually all of the standards, and will greatly enhance the quality of retail food inspections in Iowa for all jurisdictions. Additionally, the Department will develop a series of videos that will feature cuisine, cooks and concepts that are specific to the culture/cuisine being prepared. For example, the Asian/Chinese Culture would feature specific foods where risks can occur with Asian/Chinese cooks speaking in their respective language (traditional, simplified, etc.) and subtitles in English. These videos will be posted online and available to any jurisdiction interested in using them. In addition, the major projects above the Department will also develop a series of emergency response procedures related to common food emergencies. The Department will also develop policies and procedures related to implementing the standards. Overall with the implementation of the above activities, Iowa's retail food protection program will be greatly enhanced.
Our focus is to implement the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards by developing policies and procedures, strengthening collaborations and conducting program self- assessment to reach significant conformance with the standards. During this process, the Department will implement a data system that improves the compliance with standards in all 24 jurisdictions performing retail food inspections and enforcement in Iowa.