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Advancing Retail Program Standards Conformance Through Sustainable Technology, Continuing Education, and Community Connection in Delaware


The State of Delaware Office of Food Protection (OFP) is a public service office that was created to identify foodborne illness risk factors and develop strategies to reduce their occurrence, all while providing citizens a healthy, regulated and safe means to enjoy food establishments in the State of Delaware. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) operates in like cadence and has created the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (Retail Program Standards) as a model of standards by which retail food regulatory programs may uniformly develop and administer a program through continuous process improvements. Enrollment in and conformance with these Retail Program Standards will foster a program that works to eliminate the occurrence of illness and death from foods produced at retail food establishments. An assessment of OFP’s program against the Retail Program Standards identified conformance with only one standard, Standard 1(Regulatory Foundation). To achieve greater conformance with these Standards our project proposes to accomplish the following goals: 1) attain an Information Technology (IT) solution to address programmatic needs (Standard 8 – Support and Resources), 2) provide continuing education to regulatory staff (Standard 2 – Trained Regulatory Staff) and 3) increase outreach to retail food community and industry (Standard 7 – Industry and Community Relations). With an IT solution (database)- efficient, accurate and timely input and tracking of retail food establishment permitting information, violations (risk factors) and compliance history ultimately lends way to the ability to complete a trend analysis and may be used to identify recurring foodborne illness risk factors. Increasing the education threshold of our regulatory staff and sharing food safety information through community and industry collaborations and outreach will minimize the occurrence of such risk factors. By meeting these goals OFP will be well on the way to achieving conformance with all other Retail Program Standards. The database alone sets the groundwork for advancement to meet Standards 3 (Inspection program based on HACCP Principles), 4 (Uniform Inspection Program), 5 (Foodborne Illness and Food Defense Preparedness and Response) and 6 (Compliance and Enforcement). Standard 9 is the Program Assessment which will occur once conformance with Standards 1 through 8 is achieved. This opportunity will bring the state of Delaware in to conformance with all 9 Retail Program Standards within five (5) years, providing patrons of Delaware retail food establishments peace of mind that the places in which they dine are regulated by a program that holds itself to the highest Standards.

Mathews, Ralph Mead
Delaware Division of Public Health
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