The Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health (Health Department) operates a retail food regulatory program focused on the reduction of risk factors known to cause or contribute to foodborne illness. The Health Department centers on active managerial control and is working on the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (Standards). To date, the Health Department has conformed to four of the nine Standards. This funding opportunity provides a platform to achieve greater conformance with the Standards and to implement innovative intervention strategies to reduce occurrence of contributing risk factors. The project's goal is to develop, implement and continuously improve the infrastructure and effectiveness of the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health's retail food safety program using the Standards to ensure food safety.
Two aims were developed to achieve the goal.
Aim 1 is by August 2017, the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health will increase their Standard achievement to 100% compliant. Health Department staff developed an action plan for success in compliance with Standards 1, 5, 6, 8 and 9. Highlighted activities include hiring a food inspector to reduce the inspections to staff ratio, gaining equipment to improve inspection quality, implementing quality assurance activities (i.e. sampling files for compliance review), updating the inspections database and conducting a facility study. As each Standard is approved by the verifying agency, it, along with already achieved Standards, will cycle to promote continuous program improvement.
Aim 2 is that by August 2020, Health Department staff through Standards quality improvement will achieve a 15% decrease in risk-factor violations. Three branches of innovation will aid in reduction. First, is implementation of the Olmstead County, Minnesota, Procedures, Training, Verification electronic assessment system. It provides a platform for communication and education with retail food operators and prioritizes a system for follow-up and consultation. The system is active managerial control that determines whether a facility is in control of their risk factors. The second category is embedding food safety courses in the community thereby flooding the area with certified food handlers. Staff will work with community organizations, retail food facilities and individuals to increase course offerings. Third, is a category that will transform the existing Food Safety Manual to oral culture to better educate food workers. This project will help the Health Department meet their mission to optimize the health of all people in Cerro Gordo County.

Public Health Relevance

Food safety is a public health issue that affects millions of Americans daily. This project advances conformance with the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards to improve the effectiveness of the retail food regulatory program at the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health. Standard conformance along with risk-factor intervention strategies such as risk factor assessment, prioritization and education during inspections,shifting to oral culture with a food safety manual and increased availability of food safety certification courses will increase active managerial control thereby reducing the chance of foodborne illness.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Research Demonstration--Cooperative Agreements (U18)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZFD1)
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Niesen, Maribeth
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Cerro Gordo County Depart/ Public Health
Mason City
United States
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