Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack commended the Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response (CIFOR) for the new CIFOR Foodborne Illness Response Guidelines for owners, operators, and managers of food establishments.
These guidelines were developed by an ongoing public/private partnership consisting of experts from all levels of government and the food industry. The purpose of the guidelines is to help outline, clarify, and explain the recommended role for retail food establishment owners, operators, and managers in a foodborne illness outbreak investigation and what they can expect after being notified of an outbreak. The guidelines also provide a step-by-step approach that companies can take during the different phases of an outbreak investigation, including preparing an establishment to respond should an outbreak occur, identifying signs of a potential outbreak, helping government officials to investigate an outbreak, and following up after an outbreak investigation.
“When there is an outbreak of foodborne illness, the government and the food industry are of one mind. We have to find the cause and stop the outbreak,” Sebelius says. “These guidelines and the continued work of CIFOR demonstrate key partnerships and our daily shared commitment to food safety and the health of consumers in the United States.”
“These CIFOR guidelines offer a clear pathway to success in industry’s and government’s efforts to ensure that the foods we produce and regulate are safe to eat,” Vilsack says. “Both industry and government have a shared responsibility for the safety of our nation’s food supply. By outlining and clarifying specific roles and responsibilities during each outbreak, we develop greater trust and accountability among stakeholders and consumers.”
CIFOR is a multidisciplinary collaboration that includes representatives of local, state, and federal agencies with expertise in the fields of epidemiology, environmental health, and laboratory science as well as representatives from the food industry who are active members of the standing CIFOR Industry Workgroup. This collaboration, chaired by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists and the National Association of County and City Health Officials, was organized to improve methods at the local, state, and federal levels to detect, investigate, control, and prevent foodborne disease outbreaks. The federal agencies represented on CIFOR include USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and HHS’s Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The National Restaurant Association is proud to have played an active role in developing this resource in partnership with state, local, and federal public health officials and other industry stakeholders,” says NRA president and CEO Dawn Sweeney. “The CIFOR Foodborne Illness Response Guidelines are an important tool for restaurant owners and operators, and reflect our industry’s commitment to protecting the public health.”
Food Marketing Institute President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin, says, “Food safety is core to our principles in the food retail industry, and critical to ensuring the efficacy of our businesses. The CIFOR Industry Guidelines demonstrate collaboration between industry and public health professionals to respond more efficiently to the health needs of consumers. FMI is pleased to be part of the partnership.”