Government food protec- tion officials do a great deal of various types of work to ensure
food marketed within their jurisdiction is safe.
Most people are generally aware of the food establishment inspections, consumer complaint investigations, and
food sampling and testing conducted on a daily basis by government food safety agencies, but they may be less aware of the
critical work performed by these agencies during their most important
functions. Three of these most important functions are investigations relating to foodborne illness, coordinating food recalls, and responding to disasters.
During disaster response, government officials work to identify and mitigate food safety is-
sues that were created by the disaster and assist industries into the recovery phase. Their
response can occur directly, by visiting the site, or indirectly, through a press release or advi-
sory placed with the media.
Public health officials at all levels of government recognize that food emergencies
can occur at any time and have a huge impact on the citizens they work so hard to
protect. These food emergencies are the result of both man-made and natural disasters. Man-made disasters include vehicle mishaps, explosions, chemical spills, and
nuclear accidents, whereas natural disasters include hurricanes, floods, tornadoes,
blizzards, and wildfires. They all can create havoc in the normal lives of citizens and
have serious impacts on food safety and the economy.
Hurricanes are one of the most damaging natural disasters; they are perilous for
By Joseph Corby, Steven Mandernach, Brenda Morris,
Summer Williams, and Tishara Coleman, MPA, REHS/RS