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  1. Integrated Food Safety System (IFSS) Programs and Initiatives

What is FoodSHIELD?

  • FoodSHIELD is a web-based system for communication, coordination, education, and training among the nation's food and agriculture sectors.
  • This secure system allows public health and food regulatory officials at the local, state, and federal levels across the nation to work together.
  • It also helps communicate food safety information among other government agencies.
  • FoodSHIELD is currently being funded and maintained through an FDA Cooperative Agreement awarded to the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO). 

What is the mission of FoodSHIELD?

  • To support federal, state and local governmental regulatory agencies and laboratories in defending the food supply through web-based tools that enhance threat prevention and response, risk management, communication and asset coordination, as well as public education.

What is the Association of Food and Drug Officials?

  • The Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) is an international, non-profit organization that strives to protect public health and safety by working collaboratively with public and private sectors and advocating with a unified voice to make a positive impact on food and medical product safety laws, rules, and regulations.
  • AFDO and its six regional affiliates provide the mechanism and the forum where regional, national, and international issues are deliberated and resolved to uniformly provide the best public health and consumer protection in the most expeditious and cost-effective manner

How do we achieve the mission?

  • One step to achieving the mission is the free membership that FoodSHIELD offers to any government official working in the arena of food safety and food regulation.
  • This is done to encourage the maximum number of users and increase collaboration through the whole safety sector.
  • FoodSHIELD tools and capabilities are enhanced through active collaboration with its users on a regular basis. 

How was FoodSHIELD created?

  • FoodSHIELD got its start with the creation of LabDIR as a result of the National Food Safety System (NFSS) Laboratory Operations & Coordination Workgroup vision of transforming a paper-based directory into a web-based directory designed for easy access.
  • Discussions with the FDA, USDA, Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), and AAVLD (American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnostics) identified the need for a searchable web-based directory across the full spectrum of farm-to-table laboratories as well as clinical laboratories that respond to outbreaks and food safety concerns.
  • It was later decided to develop an expanded prototype of this comprehensive laboratory directory to model concepts and features being requested by diverse groups and officials responsible for emergency response encompassing the entire food and agricultural farm-to-fork continuum.
  • Hence, FoodSHIELD came to exist as a comprehensive infrastructure supporting the protection and defense of our food and agricultural resources as a whole, including the scientific and technological diversities of the laboratory community.

What are some of the successes of the FoodSHIELD program?

  • FoodSHIELD currently has registered participation from labs and regulatory agencies in all 50 states and many territories.
  • More than 1,000 workgroups actively use FoodSHIELD to plan, coordinate, and develop new strategies for food safety and defense.
  • Many groups have used the FoodSHIELD platform to build their own, uniquely branded portals to meet the specific collaboration needs of their work.
  • Currently comprising officials from federal, state, and local agencies, all-hazards searching capabilities are greatly enhanced. The program drives critical outreach and response activities down to minutes of effort to identify and begin to coordinate across a diverse set of roles and responsibilities that may be needed for each unique event.

How is FoodSHIELD funded?

  • Initial funding for FoodSHIELD was provided by grants from U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food Protection Defense Institute (FPDI). FoodSHIELD start-up development occurred under a USDA CSREES grant to FPDI and University of Minnesota researchers.  Currently, FDA provides funding for the ongoing maintenance and enhancement of the FoodSHIELD platform and associated portals through AFDO.  FDA also supports the platform tools that support the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (VetLIRN).
  • Through USDA, the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) provides additional funds which FoodSHIELD uses to host the FERN website.  The USDA-sponsored National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) also is a part of the FoodSHIELD platform.
  • Department of Homeland Security provides funding to maintain platform tools associated with the Integrated Consortium of Laboratory Networks (ICLN).
  • FoodSHIELD is further supported through its partnership with AFDO, which provides direct and in-kind contributions to support state regulatory agencies who firmly believe in FoodSHIELD's potential.

Who do I contract for more information?

General questions can be directed to OP.Feedback@fda.hhs.gov.

Specific questions on this program can be directed to the appropriate Office of Partnerships' contact within the Division of Partnership Investments and Agreements. Please visit the Office of Partnerships Contacts webpage of obtain a downloaded version of the staffing roster.

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