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DATCP, FDA Improving Response to Food Safety Emergencies
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 05/15/2019

Wisconsin is the latest state to take part in the Food and Drug Administration's Rapid Response Team Program, which aims to minimize the amount of time between when a human or animal food emergency occurs and implementing a multi-agency response to prevent and reduce exposure to a foodborne illness. This week, the state's agriculture department announced it received federal funding to lead the development of the rapid response program.

"A major challenge addressing a food-related emergency is collecting and organizing information from multiple public health agencies so we can quickly understand and mitigate the emergency," said Dr. Steve Ingham, who serves as administrator for DATCP's division of Food and Recreational Safety. "It's important for agencies to work together in a potential outbreak situation. The Department of Health Services interviews people who got sick, the State Laboratory of Hygiene figures out what microbes made these people sick, and the DATCP lab tests foods to confirm whether these microbes were present in suspected foods."

As part of the agreement, the state will receive $300,000 each year for the next five years to fund the rapid response initiatives. That includes surveillance, data sharing and analysis, communications, staffing and training.

Ingham says Wisconsin's rapid response team was unfunded between 2015 to 2017, which means the agency operated its response efforts with limited resources.

FDA Health Officer Jeanne Ayers adds that illnesses caused by the foods we eat or drink are of great concern to the public. She says when an outbreak occurs, the public wants answers quickly.

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