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Leveraging Local Resources to Regionally Enhance Food Safety in Berkshire County Using FDA Program Standards

Investigators
Kittross, Laura
Institutions
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission
Start date
2020
End date
2021
Objective
Project AbstractEach of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts, regardless of size, is responsible for all itspublic health services, including food safety. Providing the full range of professional publichealth services is challenging for all communities, but especially for small, rural towns due to alack of access to a professional workforce and the costs of keeping inspectors fully certified.The Berkshire Public Health Alliance is an innovative partnership among 24 jurisdictions rangingin size from 150 to 40,000 residents in Berkshire County, Massachusetts who signed an inter-municipal agreement in 2011 to share staff, services and grants. The Alliance operates byleveraging resources including support from local Boards of Health, the Massachusetts HealthOfficer?s Association, the FDA and others to regionally to meet FDA Retail Program Standards,significantly improving food safety in this holiday region. Each Alliance member has the optionof paying for an Alliance supported online permitting system, but the annual costs have been asignificant barrier to town participation. This project will focus on improving existing onlinepermitting and identifying a more affordable multi-town online option for towns who are unableto afford the substantial annual fees of the current town-by-town system. An easily accessible,standardized permitting and fee collection system will help ensure a sustainable, regional,uniform, compliant, HACCP-based permitting option for all types of food establishments.Experience with online permitting has demonstrated that an online system allows Alliance fulland part-time inspectors the option of managing permit applications remotely in real time,making the whole permitting system more uniform, responsive and affordable. Including a feecollection option helps ensure sustainability. As a complement to online permitting, the Alliancewill work with a vendor to test and fully implement an online inspection scheduling and reportingtool managed by a part-time Alliance administrative support person to manage the Alliancepermitting system and to coordinate and assign the Alliance?s seven full and part-timeinspectors who provide public health services throughout the 946 square miles in the county. Inaddition, substantial assessment and training for Alliance staff, inspectors and local Board ofHealth members will be used to ensure uniform, compliant permitting and inspection outcomes.These related projects will support towns in working towards meeting Standards 8: ProgramSupport and Resources; 6: Compliance and Enforcement; 4: Uniform Inspection Program basedon HACCP Principles and 2: Trained Regulatory Staff.
Funding Source
Food and Drug Administration
Project source
View this project
Project number
1U18FD007007-01
Categories
Legislation and Regulations
Risk Assessment, Management, and Communication
Bacterial Pathogens