sponse procedures are up to date and serves as a key resource during emergency situations, often leading the response. RRTs also focus on bringing together the human
and animal food response agencies into a unified approach to maximize efficiency
during these emergencies.
While foodborne illness investigations are the most common type of response,
natural disasters also represent a common deployment of RRTs. Hurricanes, floods,
landslides, fires, and water contamination events are among the many types of natural disasters RRTs have responded to since inception. Following is an example of
how two RRTs—Texas and Florida—approached 2017’s Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
can be taken to prevent products from
further abuse. For example, during
power outages, establishments can use
blankets to cover perishable foods or
use dry ice to provide temporary cold
storage. Other examples of mitigating
procedures include the use of bottled
water as a source of potable water.
Provide educational assistance
Frequently, food protection agencies
will have guidelines and educational
materials available that they can provide
to operators to help them follow appropriate procedures in responding to
Take enforcement action where necessary
Where establishment operators fail to
take appropriate steps to ensure unsafe
foods are not being sold, the regulatory
agency will take appropriate enforcement action.
Standards and Rapid
Twenty-two states currently have
Rapid Response Teams (RRTs), 19 funded through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and 3 without federal support. The teams are organized to
respond to all human and animal food
emergencies from foodborne illness to
intentional contamination to natural
disasters. The RRT program allows
for enhanced training related to these
activities and also training and implementation of the Incident Command
System (ICS). This enhanced capability
typically includes dedicated response
leaders and has proven to be a successful model as the FDA has expanded
the funded program from 6 to 19 RRTs
since its inception and additional states
will probably be added in 2018.
RRTs have developed and shared best
practices across teams. Furthermore,
through mentorships, recent RRT additions have been able to more quickly
establish their response team. One common theme across teams is the need
to have staff dedicated to emergency
response. Most teams have a dedicated
staff member leading the response team.
This person ensures that emergency re-