Study aims to help ensure adherence to retail program standards

U.S – The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) has stressed the importance of state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions work toward conformance to Standard 9, as it provides a framework for alignment with the other eight Retail Program Standards.

This was in a study titled, “Analysis of Factors Impacting the Implementation of Effective Intervention Strategies”,  conducted in cooperation with the Conference for Food Protection (CFP).

The study’s findings can be used as a springboard for developing successful intervention methods for the retail food sector.

Based on Standard 9 of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (Retail Program Standards), which describes the procedure a jurisdiction can use to measure the success of its retail food regulatory program in delivering positive food safety outcomes, the study evaluated local retail food regulatory programs’ risk factor intervention strategies.

To be in compliance with Standard 9, jurisdictions must develop focused intervention plans for food hazards based on a risk factor assessment, and then periodically conduct follow-up risk factor studies to assess the effectiveness of the implemented intervention measures.

In order to identify and evaluate the implementation of risk factor interventions put in place by regional retail food regulation programs participating in the Retail Program Standards, NACCHO and CFP performed key informant interviews.

Resources, processes, teamwork, implementation, and interventions were among the variables that the interviews revealed were crucial to take into account when deciding which risk factors to focus on for improvement.

The most commonly targeted risk factor was inadequate personal hygiene. Most jurisdictions targeted risk factors based on the most frequently cited breaches during inspections.

Poor personal hygiene, according to interviewees, included workers who had symptoms of illness or who were seen eating, drinking, or smoking while preparing food.

Participants in the study recognized characteristics that were essential to the effectiveness of intervention implementation as well as difficulties in putting target intervention techniques into practice.

To be in compliance with Standard 9, jurisdictions must develop focused intervention plans for food hazards based on a risk factor assessment, and then periodically conduct follow-up risk factor studies to assess the effectiveness of the implemented intervention measures.

Staff turnover, a lack of time and money, and difficulty maintaining long-term behavioral change were a few of the notable difficulties, as reported by Food Safety Magazine.

However, strong training programs, tools, and resources as well as staff desire to take part in the intervention were the success elements that were most frequently noted.

Last but not least, the study makes a number of recommendations for local, state, and federal leadership to help remove obstacles to the effective implementation of targeted intervention strategies.

These include making sure that retail program regulatory staff conduct uniform and consistent inspections; collaboration between states or larger regions for data sharing, best practices, buy-in from decision-makers, and making interventions fit into systems that are already in place; and a number of other recommendations.

NACCHO operates as a non-profit organization representing 2,800 local public health departments in the U.S.

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