The Kern County Public Health Services Department, Environmental Health Division, has beenenrolled in the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards since 2005. Theproposed scope of work will further develop the detailed competencies the agency needs toachieve conformance with the Retail Food Program Standards. The Department will develop astrong foodborne illness component. This component will address tracking of foodborne illnesscomplaints and investigations; enhance the existing foodborne illness response team; increasethe accessibility for reporting by the general public; and enable the Department to conduct trendanalysis. The Department will standardize staff to the inspection criteria of the Federal FoodCode. This will enhance the consistency of food facility inspections; and increase theknowledge base of staff so that inspections will focus on foodborne illness risk factors andintervention strategies. The current inspection hardware will be replaced to allow moreaccurate reporting of observations during inspections. The Department will conduct a riskassessment study of proper hand washing technique, employee health and the appropriate useof gloves. The final results of this study will be used to determine if there is a new interventionstrategy that can be analyzed and implemented. Any new intervention strategies will be addedto the current inspection format. The Department will provide training to staff and foodretailers on how to implement the intervention strategies and will provide further training onoverall safe food handling. The Department will develop a gold seal certification program forfood retailers that attend the training in person or complete the computer module, signifyingthey have taken an extra step towards implementing safe food handling practices. An ill foodhandler may be a contributory factor in a foodborne illness outbreak. To assist withinvestigations the Department will purchase stool specimen collection kits. During foodborneillness investigations food handlers will be asked to voluntarily provide stool samples to betested by the Department laboratory. The goal of this work is to enhance investigation offoodborne illness outbreaks; determine if new intervention strategies are needed; and applythese intervention strategies to reduce the risk factors that contribute to foodborne illness.Through this strategic plan, the Department will meet Standards 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 9.
The Kern County Public Health Services Department, Environmental Health Division proposed grant application will directly benefit the health of the general public. The Department will conduct the following: 1) build the capacity of staff and food retailers on overall safe food handling, standardize inspections and investigations, and implement new intervention strategies to reduce the risk associated with foodborne illness;and 2) increase the accessibility for reporting by the general public.