never ends and of the importance of
including real-world events and responsibilities in the planning process.
As the director of emergency management and supporter of the Georgia
Food and Feed Rapid Response Team
(GA RRT), I reached out to the federal
ESF [emergency support function]
11 coordinator, Andrew Wilson, who
helped obtain planning documents
from Super Bowl LII from his network.
I was also made aware from our public
health partners of a City of Minneapolis
webinar by Daniel Huff, environmental health director, Minnesota Public
Health Department, where he shared his
knowledge and expertise on the subject.
I later met him when we copresented
at our RRT National Conference in
Austin, TX, and he was a plethora of
knowledge and real-world planning considerations. Having these planning items
helped direct our efforts and helped
provide a foundation for our work.
We decided fairly early on that we
would incorporate a sampling effort
into our food defense operations. Little
did I know that this would be a massive undertaking. The coordination of
testing efforts for nontraditional threat
agents beyond the theoretical planning
efforts in the FERP took thoughtful
planning and interagency coordination.
It included a tour of the Russell Research Center, a USDA-FSIS FERN lab
in Athens, GA, to further understand
their processes and methodologies, and
internal meetings with our two food
laboratories within GDA.
The logistical efforts for hot food
sampling were more robustly coordinat-
ed and created by our operations section
chief, Krissa Jones. GDA had a compo-
nent of the sampling operations during
the Super Bowl along with USDA-FSIS.
An organizational chart was developed
to break the Super Bowl foodservice
sites into different zones. GDA had
Centennial Olympic Park, and GSU
and USDA-FSIS had the Georgia World
Benz Stadium (MBS), and State Farm
Arena. This operational period had a
successfully developed and validated
Atlanta. FSIS played a significant role in testing meat, poultry, and egg products to
ensure their safety for consumers.
Over the years, I’ve been involved in several food defense activities for a variety
of high-interest events, such as the Republican and Democratic National Conventions in 2012 and 2016 and the presidential inaugurations in 2013 and 2017. When
working these events, it’s essential to develop and maintain working relationships
and effective lines of communications with partner federal agencies and other organizations. Working together as a food defense system, rather than as siloed agencies,
enhances the collective awareness of potential hazards, further protecting the public.
A good example of this is my activities leading up to Super Bowl LIII. I developed working relationships with representatives of the NFL’s Super Bowl LIII planning committee, state public health officials, state agriculture officials, federal law
enforcement agents, state emergency management officials, and the stadium’s catering staff. Additionally, I coordinated with various FSIS offices throughout the pre-event planning and the execution of our activities during the event. This included
working with staff in FSIS’s Office of Investigation, Enforcement, and Audit (OIEA)
and the Significant Incident Preparedness and Response Staff, who obtained the
food samples we tested and helped communicate the coordination of the agency’s
activities for the event. FSIS FERN conducted laboratory analysis of FSIS-regulated
food products to prevent the outbreak of foodborne illnesses during the event.
Lenore Musick: For our dining halls, we developed a food safety plan for all
units and coordinated with our vendors to ensure we were receiving safe product.
For catering, we didn’t have a vast network of people to pull information from
about handling a large event like the Super Bowl. So we used our own knowledge
from events like Teach for America, Boys & Girls Clubs, and Georgia State University’s homecoming. We fed thousands of people in a short amount of time, so that
was a good amount of training. The largest difference was safety-related procedures.
For prior events, we used normal food handling practices. But with the Super Bowl
being a Tier 1 event, we had to anticipate daily visits from USDA and the health department. The key to success is pre-planning for large events to ensure there is plenty
of equipment and personnel available to maintain food safety standards.
Venessa Sims: Georgia had finalized its Food Emergency Response Plan (FERP)
in the past year (a multi-year planning process in and of itself). Just when we
thought we had completed this multi-agency planning project, we realized that we
had not fully encompassed special event planning into the document, and so we
had to step back and punt, so to speak, to ensure we more completely encompassed
interagency communications, sampling, and laboratory coordination for special
events into the document. It was an excellent reminder that the planning process
“Working together as a food defense system,
rather than as siloed agencies, enhances the
collective awareness of potential hazards,
further protecting the American public.”