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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Food Related Emergency Exercise Bundle (FREE-B) Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the Food Related Emergency Exercise Bundle (FREE-B)?

FREE-B is set of five scenarios, available online, based on both intentional and unintentional food contamination events. FREE-B is designed with the intention of assisting stakeholders in assessing existing food emergency response plans, protocols, and procedures that may be in place, or to assist in the revising or development of a food emergency response plan. 

FREE-B provides stakeholders with a variety of options to test and improve their capabilities to respond to food-related human or animal health emergencies. The five scenarios in FREE-B are designed so that agencies can conduct the exercises with a minimal amount of customization.

Each scenario is stand-alone, which means it can be conducted in any order. Additionally, FREE-B is predicated on strengthening existing collaborations and partnerships between and among neighboring jurisdictions, as well as with other stakeholders (private sector, law enforcements, private sector, medical community, and first responders). FDA encourages users of FREE-B to consider inviting these groups to participate in the exercises and workshops, in order to further bolster and solidify existing relationships.  

 

What is the purpose of the FREE-B?

FREE-B is designed to allow stakeholders to ‘host’ a multi-jurisdictional event, or quite simply, for an individual agency or firm to test their own protocols, plans, and procedures independently. FDA acknowledges that pre-event preparedness and resiliency efforts are best visible, when observed through the eyes of our state, local, tribal and territorial (SLTT) partners. To that end, during the development of FREE-B, comments and suggestions were sought after from numerous state and local partners, to ensure and verify that the content and perspectives were accurately represented.

FDA recognizes the importance of pre-event coordination, collaboration, and communication, in addition to horizontal and vertical food emergency response plan integration, in mitigating the outcomes of a large scale food emergency. Accordingly, FDA encourages government agencies using the FREE-B toolkit to coordinate and collaborate with neighboring jurisdictions and Federal partners in the planning of an exercise from FREE-B, in order to further examine and assess the cross-jurisdiction integration of existing food emergency response plans. 
   

What are some of the assumptions built into the FREE-B?

In assembling FREE-B, assumptions have been made as to the existence of food emergency response plans, and where appropriate, references are made to existing guidelines to assist our SLTT partners in this plan development effort. 

It is assumed that jurisdictions that will be using FREE-B have a basic understanding of the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) methodology. While FREE-B is not an HSEEP training tool, it does provide users a framework from which they can begin to develop trainings to assess the functionality of existing food emergency plans, protocols, and procedures. Additionally, a link to the HSEEP methodology is provided within the Resource Guide of FREE-B. 
   

Who is the target audience (stakeholders) of the FREE-B?

The target audience for FREE-B is those SLTT jurisdictions, within state, county, regional or local jurisdictions, that wish to exercise their Food Emergency Response Plans. While the private sector and medical and first responder communities do have questions prepared for them within some of the scenarios, the primary target audience is state, local, tribal, and territorial regulatory and public health partners. The following entities may benefit from using FREE-B:

  • Departments of Health
  • Departments of Agriculture

  • Departments of Consumer/Environmental Protection Services

  • FDA Rapid Response Teams

  • Innovative Food Defense Program Grant recipients

  • Food Protection Task Force Grants recipients 

 

How can we provide feedback on the FREE-B? 

Comments, suggestion or thoughts for the current version, or ideas for future scenarios, can be submitted to the Food Defense Oversight Team at FoodDefense@fda.hhs.gov.

   

What if we have additional questions on the FREE-B?

If you have additional questions on the FREE-B, please contact the Food Defense Oversight Team at FoodDefense@fda.hhs.gov.