- FL RRT The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services, Division of Food Safety, has positioned itself to continue implementation of a rapid response capability/network to measure and evaluate our various food safety programs to enhance our response to adverse food/feed incidents to mitigate the adverse impact of such incidents and prevention of the number of foodborne illnesses in the state of Florida, thereby improving the health of Floridians and our many visitors and exports. In March 2010, a report by the Produce Safety Project, an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts, ranked Florida fourth in the nation for number of foodborne illnesses. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions, states the number of foodborne illness cases are 82 million a year in the United States of which 4.9 million cases are attributed to Florida. With the funds awarded from this cooperative agreement, we would continue our improvement of our rapid response infrastructure to evaluate our practices and methods to ensure effectiveness, then develop and implement our improvement plan and have adequate technology and knowledgeable staff to validate our goal to reduce the number of foodborne illnesses and reduce their damaging effects. We have recently rebuilt our Information Technology system in order to track and evaluate our strategies being effective, both in our food inspection and laboratory systems;this effort is currently under Beta and User Testing for anticipated release date in the fall of 2013. The rebuild allows tracking capabilities of our activities and be able to handle external interfaces with our food safety partners in Florida which include our Department of Health, Department of Business and Professional Regulations- Division of Hotels and Restaurants, the Food and Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture as well as other agencies involved in protecting the food supply in Florida. We would dedicate staff to oversee this endeavor with verifiable, documented results. We have created a Standard Operating Plan for Florida's Integrated Rapid Response Team (FLIRRT) and a Food Emergency Response Plan and plan to improve it and exercise the plan to ensure it functions as written. With this award we can continue to increase the knowledge of our workforce by applicable training and by supplying staff with current electronic technology to chart our activities and to respond rapidly to an adverse event to lessen the negative health and economic impact on the Florida community.
By the award of this cooperative agreement, Florida, in partnership with all state, federal and private food/feed stakeholders will continue to enhance our infrastructure and capability network to respond rapidly and effectively to any adverse food/feed situation or any planned event involving food/feed safety or food/feed defense. Having pre-established, integrated working relationships with functional, pre-determined plans and procedures that are exercised will allow an optimum and effective response and mitigation to an adverse incident. The health of the public will be improved by our collaborated efforts to prevent and/or minimize adverse impacts of intentional or unintentional food/feed incidents.