Response to Food Protection Task Force Conference Grant Program PA-09-123AbstractThe Tennessee Food Safety Task Force, represented and supported by partners inindustry, federal, state, and local regulatory agencies and educational institutions,continues to lead efforts in Tennessee to enhance food safety and food defense bydeveloping materials, holding tabletop exercises, and an annual food safety conference.The Task Force was initiated in 2002 and has been very successful. Task Forceactivities focus on issues at the state and local levels relating to various organizationsand agencies and the roles and responsibilities they have related to food safety and fooddefense. The Task Force in Tennessee has engaged key stakeholders creating anetwork of members to address capacity and resource needs, outbreak coordination andinvestigations, information sharing and data collection, regulatory standards,communications and education, laboratory operations and coordination, and state andlocal training needs for epidemiology and outbreak investigations. Issues are addressedby stakeholders in face to face meetings and by conference calls as well as the annualfood safety conference. The next conference entitled, The Future of Food Safety -Sorting Through the Food Safety Maze is scheduled to be held in Nashville, Tennesseeon May 12, 2010. The conference includes speakers from FDA, CDC, and industry.With ongoing and enhanced FDA funding, we will continue Task Force activitiesincluding sponsorship of subcommittees, workshops, and annual conferences. Majorbenefits of the Taskforce include the routine interaction and networking ofrepresentatives from academia and industry with representatives from state, local, andfederal government. Because foodborne disease remains a serious public health threatand a threat to food producers and suppliers, it is critical to maintain this project andsustain the Taskforce activities, including annual conferences. Plans for a 2011conference include outreach to other regional Task Force groups and an evaluation ofthe Task Forces' best practices and projects.
A primary objective of the Food Safety Taskforce has been to lead efforts in Tennessee to enhance food safety and security by networking in Tennessee, developing materials, holding tabletop exercises, and an annual conference. Despite the successes of the Task Force and accomplishments to date, foodborne disease remains a serious public health threat and a threat to food producers and suppliers.