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A FREE-B That Really Pays Back

Food Basket

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition - Food and Drug Administration

January 3, 2012

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Defense Oversight Team would like to  update our stakeholders about the Food Related Emergency Exercise Bundle  (FREE-B, previously referred to as a “boxed set” and recently renamed “bundle”) - our newest food defense tool to help build, strengthen, and improve your existing capabilities to respond to human and animal health emergencies. 

The Food Related Emergency Exercise Bundle or “FREE-B” is a compilation of scenarios based on both intentional and unintentional food contamination events. It is designed with the approach of assisting government regulatory and public health agencies in evaluating existing food emergency response plans, protocols, and procedures that may be in place, or those plans that are in the process of being revised or developed. The FREE-B is designed to allow for multiple jurisdictions and organizations (medical community, private sector, law enforcement, first responder communities, etc.) to ‘play’ with the host agency, or for an individual agency to test their own plans, protocols, and procedures independently.

The FDA’s Food Defense Oversight Team developed FREE-B in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Additionally, numerous subject matter experts participated in various rounds of reviews and refinement of the FREE-B.

What’s Next With the FREE-B?

In September 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Defense Oversight Team, through a contract and a task order with the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), issued a request for proposals (RFP) to provide interested State, Local, Tribal or Territorial-based entities with strategic guidance and limited financial support to conduct one of the scenarios from the FREE-B portfolio.

The intent of the RFP is to provide FDA representatives an opportunity to participate, observe the FREE-B in action so that future iterations of the tool can be more in-line with our stakeholders needs.  Additionally, the FDA will be using these opportunities to assist with development of food defense specific risk communications message templates.

The awardees of up to $5,000.00 to support day-of-event and limited lead-up planning assistance are:

State based recipients:

  • Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
  • Connecticut Department of Public Health
  • Georgia Department of Agriculture
  • Illinois Department of Public Health
  • Iowa Department of inspection and Appeals
  • Minnesota Department of Agriculture
  • New York State Department of Health /Michigan Department of Community Health
  • Virginia Department of Health

Local Public Health Agency:

  • Uncas Health District (Connecticut)

These exercises will be completed by June 2012 and FDA appreciates the time and effort put forth in all of the proposals that were received and we wish the awardees success with their exercises.

How Do I Access the FREE-B?

FREE-B is Free and available for you to download from the FDA’s Internet site.

Is There Anything Else I Should Know?

The FDA encourages our stakeholders to check our Food Defense website for new information, updates and changes as well as information for upcoming training and webinars.

If you are interested in learning more about FREE-B, you can listen to a replay of a conference call that was held on August 17, 2011 by calling 1-888-566-0103 or international callers can dial 401-998-0958. 
In addition, the FREE-B would be most beneficial if your jurisdiction has had previous experience with the basic understanding of the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) methodology.  If you are not familiar with HSEEP, you can get more information at FEMA's HSEEP website.

Feedback – Yes Please!

We welcome your feedback or suggestions on improving or updating FREE-B so that we can make it the most valuable and useful tool for you.  Please send an e-mail with your ideas and suggestions to the FDA’s Food Defense Oversight Team at: FoodDefense@fda.hhs.gov.

In closing, as President Dwight Eisenhower once said, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything*” – We here at FDA know that developing, exercising and revising emergency response plans and procedures are integral to a successful outcome to any event.  It is the hope of the food defense oversight team that the FREE-B can be the tool that brings folks together before the ‘real-event’ happens; helping our stakeholders to be ready and prepared for everything and anything that may come their way.

 

 
*(A speech to the National Defense Executive Reserve Conference in Washington D.C, on November 14, 1957)