An official website of the United States government.

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Food Inspection Innovation

Investigators
Gonzalez, Hector F
Institutions
City Of Laredo Health Department
Start date
2012
End date
2015
Objective

Project Summary/Abstract: Laredo/Webb County is on the Texas/Mexico Border and is the number one inland port of entry to the United States with over 40% of the nation's trade passing through the five (5) international bridges in Laredo. Our ever sprawling developing international community is over 95% Mexican-American (as compared to 26% Statewide) and is the 2nd fastest growing community in Texas having experience 45% growth during the last decade. The City of Laredo Health Department serves a regional population of 300,000 in its service area which includes Webb, Zapata, Jim Hogg and Duval counties. On a daily basis because of trade and commerce it grows by an additional 75-100,000. Its sister City of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico has a population of over 800,000 making our metropolitan statistical area over 1million. In addition up to 70% of the population in Laredo is medically indigent and therefore access to care in case of foodborne disease is a challenge that overwhelms this area. The threat of foodborne disease continues today in large part due to an increase in illegal food entry, increase in food establishments, and increase in illegal food vending, increase in illegal food storage facilities and not enough sanitarians and public health professionals, increasing the risk to our population for foodborne disease. On too many occasions on passive inspections we find illegal food products that are either made in homes or brought from Mexico (cheese and candy products). Therefore more food safety management, food establishment education, foodborne disease prevention is a constant challenge requiring proactive vigilance. Because of these threats, we need to increase environmental health capacity (food safety management, investigations and enforcement), response, and training to the food establishment owners, the public and staff. Our asset is that we have an automated inspection and surveillance system to improve response but need staff for appropriate management, additional communication system capabilities (i.e., cell, GPS and email) to improve tracking and reporting, training, and inspection in the field and therefore improving our food safety system to one more efficient and responsive. As Laredo has done so many times in the past, we have developed our own local innovative resources and expertise to address the threat of foodborne and waterborne disease by investing in an automated environmental health training, enforcement, and data management surveillance system. Through a better inspection system we can also improve communication with the US Food and Drug Administration staff at the port of entry. Using updated and heightened communication systems in our field laptops, pre-programmed regulations, developing standardized operating procedures and situational guidelines we can enhance our environmental health capacity and further develop our workforce to conduct surveillance and enforcement as well as support food management education. In summary, Laredo is proposing to improve food safety by reducing the risks for foodborne disease primarily by augmenting and upgrading/updating our automated data management surveillance, investigation enforcement and field training system for the Environmental Health Services Division of the City of Laredo Health Department. This will be done through two (2) primary objectives: Capacity Building and Workforce development and this will also enhance our capability to fulfill the United States Food and Drug Administration Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards.

Funding Source
Food and Drug Administration
Project source
View this project
Project number
1U18FD004740-01
Categories
Bacterial Pathogens
Natural Toxins
Commodities
Dairy