For Federal, State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Officials
Food Protection Task Forces
What is the Food Protection Task Force Grant?
The Food Protection Task Force grant, awarded by the FDA Office of Parnterships (OP), began in 2003 with an initial funding level of $5,000 and is available to State, local, and tribal governments to convene stakeholders in food safety. These stakeholders form Task Forces consist of government, industry, academia, and consumer groups that create an effective state-wide infrastructure for outreach, response, and information sharing. Meetings funded as part of the Food Protection Task Force grant aim to foster communication, cooperation and collaboration within the States among State, local, and tribal food protection, public health, agriculture, and regulatory agencies.
Under the Food Protection Task Force grant, States aim to:
- Provide a forum for all the stakeholders of the food protection system—regulatory agencies, academia, industry, consumers, State legislators, Boards of Health and Agriculture, and other interested parties
- Assist in adopting or implementing the Food Code and other food protection regulations
- Promote the integration of an efficient statewide food protection/defense system that maximizes the protection of the public health through prevention, intervention and response including the early detection and containment of foodborne illness.
In Fiscal Year 2010, the grant increased to $10,000 and the language was broadened to allow participating states to use funds not just for meetings, but for a wider array of food safety activities. Additional information on the Food Protection Task Force grant can be found at Existing Grant & Cooperative Agreement Programs.
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Who are the Food Protection Task Force States?
For Fiscal Year 2012, there are 26 Task Forces, representing 25 states and the District of Columbia.
Why Create Task Force Websites?
Based on feedback from the Task Force grantees, OP identified an overarching need for an increased sense of community among the Task Forces grant recipients. Specifically, Task Forces were looking for increased capability to coordinate among Task Forces, communicate more effectively with FDA, and identify best practices and innovative ways for application of Task Force grant funds.
To address this need, a contract was awarded to the National Center for Food Protection and Defense at the University of Minnesota to create a unique, customizable website for each Food Protection Task Force grant recipient. Task Force websites are populated and maintained by the Task Forces themselves, and contain news, images, video and other content populated by various Task Force stakeholders within the State.
The Task Force websites are currently under development, and links to the sites will be made available as they come online.
Task Forces within an Integrated Food Safety System
Food safety is a core public health issue even though the U.S. food supply is among the safest in the world. With today’s far-reaching and complex food supply chain, there is an increasing need to find more effective solutions to better protect American consumers by preventing intentional and unintentional food contamination. President Obama has made a personal commitment to improving food safety, and in July 2009, the multiagency Food Safety Working Group was established to develop a renewed plan for a national integrated food safety system. As the principal conduit between the Agency and the State departments of health and agriculture, OP plays a significant role in ensuring that States are organized, prepared and communicating with the Agency and one another. The Task Force, which are uniquely positioned within States as a convener of stakeholders in food safety, can and should be an effective solution within the greater national food protection framework. This cooperation has resulted in greater awareness of potential vulnerabilities, the creation of more effective prevention programs, new surveillance systems and the ability to respond more quickly to outbreaks of foodborne illness. However, changes in consumer dietary patterns, industry practices and the U.S. population, combined with an increasingly globalized food supply chain and the emergence of new pathogens and other contaminants pose challenges that require us to continually update our current food protection strategies. As such, groups like the Food Protection Task Forces will continue to be a critical and effective tool in the national efforts to promote and protect the public health.