Thursday, August 1, 2013

Industry Guidelines for Handling Foodborne Illness Investigation

CIFOR (The Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response) released guidelines for industry to follow in the event of a foodborne illness outbreak investigation. This is very nice resource that warrants a review by every food company.  It provides a thorough review of the steps that occur when there is a foodborne illness that may be associated with an establishment.

The 78 page document lists procedures as well as forms that should be incorporated into a company’s crisis management plan. It details the roles of government and the food establishment in the event of a food emergency.

It was developed through a collaboration of food industry professionals and government authorities including FDA, USDA, and CDC.

Food industry owners or managers, need to print, review, and implement this document as part of the crisis management planning. Then keep it along with the required documentation as part of the company’s proactive action plan in the unfortunate event of the establishment may be involved in food illness outbreak. 

Print it today! 

HHS News Release 7/30/13
HHS, USDA and the food industry welcome new guidelines promoting industry

Guidelines provide tools for companies aiding government outbreak responders

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today commended the Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response (CIFOR) for the new CIFOR Foodborne Illness Response Guidelines for Owners, Operators and Managers of Food Establishments.

These guidelines were developed by an ongoing public/private partnership consisting of experts from all levels of government and the food industry. The purpose of the guidelines is to help outline, clarify and explain the recommended role for retail food establishment owners, operators and managers in a foodborne illness outbreak investigation and what they can expect after being notified of an outbreak. The guidelines also provide a step-by-step approach that companies can take during the different phases of an outbreak investigation, including preparing an establishment to respond should an outbreak occur, identifying signs of a potential outbreak, helping government officials to investigate an outbreak, and following up after an outbreak investigation.

“When there is an outbreak of foodborne illness, the government and the food industry are of one mind. We have to find the cause and stop the outbreak,” said HHS Secretary Sebelius. “These guidelines and the continued work of CIFOR demonstrate key partnerships and our daily shared commitment to food safety and the health of consumers in the United States.”

“These CIFOR guidelines offer a clear pathway to success in industry’s and government’s efforts to ensure that the foods we produce and regulate are safe to eat,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Both industry and government have a shared responsibility for the safety of our nation’s food supply. By outlining and clarifying specific roles and responsibilities during each outbreak, we develop greater trust and accountability among stakeholders and consumers.”

CIFOR is a multidisciplinary collaboration that includes representatives of local, state and federal agencies with expertise in the fields of epidemiology, environmental health and laboratory science as well as representatives from the food industry who are active members of the standing CIFOR Industry Workgroup. This collaboration, chaired by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists and the National Association of County and City Health Officials, was organized to improve methods at the local, state and federal levels to detect, investigate, control and prevent foodborne disease outbreaks. The federal agencies represented on CIFOR include USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and HHS’s Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The National Restaurant Association is proud to have played an active role in developing this resource in partnership with state, local and federal public health officials and other industry stakeholders,” said National Restaurant Association President and CEO Dawn Sweeney. “The CIFOR Foodborne Illness Response Guidelines are an important tool for restaurant owners and operators, and reflect our industry’s commitment to protecting the public health.”

Food Marketing Institute President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin, said, “Food safety is core to our principles in the food retail industry, and critical to ensuring the efficacy of our businesses. The CIFOR Industry Guidelines demonstrate collaboration between industry and public health professionals to respond more efficiently to the health needs of consumers. FMI is pleased to be part of the partnership.”

To access the guidelines and more information about CIFOR, please visit

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