The USDA and the Centers for Disease Control this week signed a memorandum of understanding to improve collaboration on addressing foodborne health hazards from meat, poultry and processed egg products, according to a joint announcement.
The MOU is part of the One Health initiative, the idea that the health of humans, animals and the environment are all linked, and issues with the three can be solved through improved communication, cooperation and collaboration across disciplines and institutions.
'"The FSIS investigation process identifies health hazards in meat and poultry products, and this agreement leverages the expertise of personnel from the [CDC] and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to complement that process," FSIS Administrator Al Almanza said in a released statement.
The MOU outlines plans for training of personnel and the planning of interagency assessment of FSIS-regulated establishments as part of foodborne illness investigations and health hazard evaluations, the statement said.
The MOU does not modify any existing interagency work, which includes illness cluster and outbreak investigations.
The agencies already work together on foodborne outbreak investigations to identify the source of illnesses and conduct epidemiologic studies.
"This memorandum will enhance opportunities for us to participate in assessments of FSIS-regulated establishments and other health hazards evaluations," explained Robin Ikeda, deputy director of CDC's Office of Noncommunicable Diseases, Injury and Environmental Health.
As part of the MOU, FSIS personnel have completed training selected epidemiologists, environmental health scientists and other subject matter experts. The training focused on FSIS statutes, regulations and investigation process. In addition, training included an in-plant food safety assessment.
Following the implementation of the MOU, the trained personnel will be available to assist FSIS in the interpretation of epidemiological data to identify the possible causes of contamination.