MDPH will enhance its capacity for multi-jurisdictional all-hazards food and feed emergency 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 food emergencies, such as foodborne illness outbreaks, its capabilities are supported by a system of incident management, laboratory testing, epidemiologic investigations, traceback and recall operations, public and internal communications, data sharing, as well as trainings and other activities associated with a comprehensive response to emergencies. The MA RRT program focuses not only on the team itself, but also on the underlying support structure of the BEH/FPP, including its active involvement as members of the Working Group on Foodborne Illness Control (WGFBIC), creating sustainable and integrated response capacity. Increasing adoption of RRT Best Practices will serve as the basis for the program and is essential to ongoing enhancements and more mature development of the RRT. Beginning in Year 1 of the cooperative agreement, BEH/FPP proposes to develop Environmental Assessment (EA) protocols and to evaluate Standard Operating Procedures and the RRT training plan to integrate environmental assessments. BEH/FPP seeks to improve the national infrastructure with continuing participation in the mentorship program. This proposal seeks to continue BEH/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 RRT development and maintenance. Information on foodborne illness outbreaks and related inspectional data will be available to MDPH and other partners, e.g. USFDA District Office, through a secure portal housed within 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 facilitate confidential communication during investigations. MDPH/BEH also proposes to post food recalls and other food-related information of interest, such as successful prevention efforts, on the publicly available pages of the portal and/or FoodSHIELD. Measures to meet 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 the critical facets of its food protection efforts.
The cooperative agreement will enhance the continuous improvements to the MDPH, Bureau of Environmental 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 sustainable and 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 mentorship to new RRTs to support the RRT Concept and Best Practices within the National Response Framework.