MDPH will enhance its capacity for multi-jurisdictional all-hazards food and feed emergency responsethrough improvements to the Massachusetts Rapid Response Team (RRT) in the Bureau ofEnvironmental Health's Food Protection Program. While the RRT serves to rapidly and effectivelyaddress food emergencies, such as foodborne illness outbreaks, its capabilities are supported by asystem of incident management, laboratory testing, epidemiologic investigations, traceback and recalloperations, public and internal communications, data sharing, as well as trainings and other activitiesassociated with a comprehensive response to emergencies. The MA RRT program focuses not only onthe team itself, but also on the underlying support structure of the BEH/FPP, including its activeinvolvement as members of the Working Group on Foodborne Illness Control (WGFBIC), creatingsustainable and integrated response capacity. Increasing adoption of RRT Best Practices will serve asthe basis for the program and is essential to ongoing enhancements and more mature development ofthe RRT. Beginning in Year 1 of the cooperative agreement, BEH/FPP proposes to developEnvironmental Assessment (EA) protocols and to evaluate Standard Operating Procedures and the RRTtraining plan to integrate environmental assessments. BEH/FPP seeks to improve the nationalinfrastructure with continuing participation in the mentorship program. This proposal seeks to continueBEH/FPP's close interagency collaboration among state, federal, and local public health partners,industry and other stakeholders, as well as with agencies and organizations in food/feed manufacturing,distribution and protection in order to provide a technical and operational foundation for RRTdevelopment and maintenance. Information on foodborne illness outbreaks and related inspectional datawill be available to MDPH and other partners, e.g. USFDA District Office, through a secure portal housedwithin the Environmental Public Health Tracking Program (EPHT web portal) developed by MDPH/BEH.FDA will be able to access information on inspection and recalls through a secure connection to facilitateconfidential communication during investigations. MDPH/BEH also proposes to post food recalls andother food-related information of interest, such as successful prevention efforts, on the publicly availablepages of the portal and/or FoodSHIELD. Measures to meet goals and objectives will be carried out withinthe framework of the US FDA cooperative agreement. BEH/FPP anticipates that participation in thiscooperative agreement will serve to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the critical facets of itsfood protection efforts.
The cooperative agreement will enhance the continuous improvements to the MDPH; Bureau ofEnvironmental Health and its Food Protection Program Rapid Response Team's(BEH/FPP/RRT) capacity to respond to food/feed incidents. BEH/FPP will create a sustainableand integrated RRT infrastructure by incorporating the RRT capabilities of preparedness;communication; surveillance/detection; investigation; control/mitigation; and post-response/prevention into the standard written policies and procedures of the food program.BEH and its FPP will collaborate with federal; state; and local agencies and provide mentorshipto new RRTs to support the RRT Concept and Best Practices within the National ResponseFramework.