PFP Overview

PFP Overview

The Partnership for Food Protection (PFP) is a group of dedicated professionals with roles in protecting the food supply and public health. The PFP coordinates representatives from food safety jurisdictions at all levels of government, as well as regulatory associations and other food safety organizations, who have expertise in food and feed, epidemiology, laboratory, animal health, environment, and public health. They work together to support the implementation of an Integrated Food Safety System (IFSS).

Who makes up the PFP?

The PFP uses a workgroup structure focused on integrating all functions related to human and animal food safety. The workgroups cover public health subject areas such as compliance and enforcement; surveillance, response and post-response activities; work planning, inspections and sampling; laboratory science; information technology; and training and certification.

The PFP is not a policy setting organization. Rather, the members of the PFP seek to promote communication and integration efforts between all jurisdictions in their areas of expertise. The workgroups achieve this by developing and providing resources, best practices, and risk-informed insight that food safety partners can utilize towards protecting public health.

What is an IFSS, and how do local jurisdictions fit in?

An IFSS is a unified food safety system that leverages the participation, expertise, resources, and authorities of partner agencies with food safety responsibilities to ensure a safe food system in the United States. Integration and food safety are two-way streets, and all levels of government and regulatory associations can contribute to, and benefit from, an IFSS.

Local members in particular greatly enhance the PFP. The front-line knowledge and experience that city, county and other local public health professionals bring to the table are among the most valuable resources for a true IFSS. Local agencies are involved in coordinated response efforts during both routine and emergency work, and are almost always the first on the scene. These experiences in multi-jurisdictional collaboration are crucial in developing resources and tools that are beneficial to all food safety partners.

Local participation in developing best practices, job aids, and other reference documents with the PFP ensures that these products accurately reflect the operational realities of all levels of government. The products developed by the PFP can, in turn, be used to strengthen local governments’ roles within the IFSS. For example, PFP has developed documents related to capacity building for emergency response, and a training and certification curriculum.

Tools and resources at the ready

The PFP provides a platform to build and strengthen the vital public health relationships and resources that can make unified emergency response a reality.  During emergency response situations (such as foodborne illness outbreaks involving multiple jurisdictions), seamless information-sharing and coordinated action are of the utmost importance to ensure an effective and timely response. The PFP provides best practices, such as Quick Start Food Emergency Response Job Aids, to facilitate initial planning in an integrated food emergency response. Having a uniform approach to large-scale public health events, be they emergencies (e.g., weather events that result in widespread power-outages) or temporary events (e.g., concerts or festivals), allows local jurisdictions to maximize resources and minimize the duplication of efforts.

Currently, the PFP is collaborating with other partners, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the International Food Protection Training Institute, to develop a national curriculum standard for all regulatory enforcement professionals. Having local involvement in the development of this curriculum standard will help guarantee that regulators at all levels of government receive the most accurate and comprehensive training possible.

Being an active member of the IFSS

Participation in the IFSS can take many forms, including participation in workgroups and the utilization of PFP products and methods. The PFP’s best practices, operational models, and other recommendations have been written by others who have done the work in local food safety positions and learned from shared experiences. New and updated documents are always being created. Adopting these recommendations helps build horizontal and vertical reciprocity among public health regulatory agencies.

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