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Research Spotlight: NCFPD Information Sharing Research 2014-15

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Information sharing is essential in identifying and mitigating threats against the homeland and in minimizing adverse health and economic consequences in response to food safety and defense events.  The concept is simple, however sharing of information demands resources and is often challenged by the technical, legal, and political barriers.  NCFPD is currently conducting research in three areas to facilitate improved information sharing among the individuals, agencies, and companies.


Foodborne Disease Outbreak Response: Assessing the Legal Framework for Interagency Sharing of Information
Kerry Wyss, MEM, Senior Director, Environmental Health, Association of State & Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO),

Together with other governmental agencies, State and Territorial Health Agencies (STHAs) help regulate food preparation, sale, and distribution, in addition to being primary responders to foodborne illness outbreaks, whether the source of the contamination is intentional or unintentional.

The ASTHO researchers are conducting a systematic review and legal analysis of existing state laws and regulations relating to STHA authority to protect non-public information from public disclosure.  In addition, a survey will be issued to all 50 states and territories followed by key informant interviews to gain insight into the interpretation of current laws impacting the disclosure of food safety and defense related information.  Case studies and other practical resources for STHAs will be developed and posted online to facilitate better intra-government information sharing.


Assessing the Cultural, Technological, and Legal Barriers to Intra-Industry Communication
Amy Kircher, DrPH, Director, National Center for Food Protection and Defense,

Information sharing within the private sector is key to identifying threats to the food system from intentional adulteration in order to initiate the appropriate response to mitigate adverse consequences posed to human and animal health from ingestion of contaminated food products.

NCFPD researchers are investigating the legal barriers, perceptions, and company policies that allow or prohibit regular and proactively shared information on food system issues and/or disruptions.  A series of interview with key personnel from national and multi-national companies will be conducted. The outcome of this research will provide new knowledge gained on industry procedural and technical information sharing requirements to help inform the private sector and regulators in determining information sharing procedures.


Strengthened Food and Agricultural Sector Defense Posture through Improved Private Sector Information Sharing
David Dyjack, DrPH, Associate Executive Director, National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO),    

The public and private stakeholders that constitute the Food and Agriculture Sector (FAS) jointly share a responsibility to defend the food supply and consumers from contamination and attack. To accomplish this, ongoing disease and threat surveillance, analysis, and information sharing between the FAS public and private stakeholders is essential.

The NACCHO team uses a mixed method approach for data collection by convening a research advisory group with key FAS representatives and conducting a national survey of public and private FAS members followed by three virtual focus group sessions for capturing additional information.  A comprehensive report of findings and recommendations will be disseminated through the NACCHO website, using new media and through presentations at professional and association meetings.

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These projects are funded through the National Center for Food Protection and Defense by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s Office of University Programs through Award Number 2010-ST-061-FD0001.