The mission of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Food and Drug Branch's (FDB), Food Safety Program is to prevent and react to food and food-related problems and emergencies. We accomplish this with a combination of prevention efforts and active intervention and response throughout the entire food chain. To increase efficiency, communication, and effectiveness of investigations in response to food/feed emergencies (intentional or unintentional), CDPH in partnership with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) San Francisco and Los Angeles District Offices formed the California Food Emergency Response Team (CalFERT) in 2005. Through this proposal, our primary objective is to further develop, implement, maintain and sustain a multi-jurisdictional rapid response team (i.e., CalFERT) and California's ability to rapidly respond to food and feed emergencies. The proposal's Research Strategy as described addresses the six program objectives and yearly milestones, listed in this funding opportunity, in accordance with the Rapid Response Team Program 5 Year Plan. Accomplishing the objectives entails sustaining two existing Rapid Response Team (RRT) positions under this grant to allow for uninterrupted continuation of RRT activities; strenghtening the program's ability to conduct investigations and exercises employing Incident Command System (ICS); continuing development and enhancement of CalFERT protocols including environmental assessments and environmental sampling; enhancing data capturing techniques and analytical approaches; purchasing additional sampling equipment and supplies in support of responses; introducing new specialized trainings on specific commodities and contamination sources; strengthening interagency collaboration, cooperation, coordination and communication with partners and stakeholders. Accordingly, we are requesting $300,000 in grant funds for each of the next three years. This would augment current CDPH capabilities and facilitate long-term improvements necessary to conduct environmental investigations, tracebacks, and enforcement activities during food and feed emergencies. Funding would also allow for critical trainings to sharpen internal skill set, improve the availability of critical resources, improve on post response and prevention activities, advance succession planning, and sustain CalFERT beyond this new grant period. CalFERT readiness to act in emergencies is critical. California is the nation's largest producer of many important agricultural commodities including leafy greens, fruit, vegetable, and nut crops. A crisis impacting those commodities would negatively impact millions of consumers in California, the nation, and the world. The economic impact of such food emergencies can cost hundreds of millions of dollars due to decreased demands for food commodities because of loss of consumer confidence in the food supply.
California Food Protection Rapid Response Team (RRT)
California Department of Public Health