CFI has developed a strong reputation as a science-based organization in the food safety community, raising awareness and translating science into practical, evidence-informed policies that protect public health and prevent foodborne disease.
Since its establishment in 2006, CFI has advocated on behalf of American consumers for a stronger food safety system. We have achieved this by interacting with various stakeholders, including national policy makers and food safety agencies, to encourage the development and implementation of stronger food protections. CFI has also served on a number of national advisory committees, including the USDA National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF), the USDA National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI), the CDC Board of Scientific Counselors FSMA Surveillance Working Group, and the FDA Science Board. Additionally, CFI has participated in several coalitions aimed at improving food safety, signed on to numerous coalition letters, and submitted comments to Federal Register Notices related to important food safety issues such as research funding cuts and proposed changes to regulations.
In some cases, CFI has advocated for specific food safety legislation such as the Food Safety Modernization Act but, as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, CFI’s lobbying activities have been limited and within the limits set forth by the government (i.e. less than 20% of resources have been extended on lobbying activities). In all cases, CFI adheres to the best practices for science-based advocacy, and our goal is to provide stakeholders the information they need to make informed decisions.
A brief summary of CFI’s achievements and the awards we have received for our efforts are outlined below.
- CFI has been instrumental in raising awareness about the long-term health outcomes (LTHOs) associated with foodborne disease. In 2009, CFI collaborated with leading experts to publish a white paper on the LTHOs of selected foodborne pathogens. In 2010, CFI received a special grant from the U.S. Food and Drug administration to further study the LTHOs, which resulted in an international workshop, conference presentations and peer-reviewed publications. Since then, there has been greater awareness about the LTHOs associated with foodborne illness. More researchers are now studying this aspect of foodborne illness and several government agencies have posted information on the LTHOs on their websites.
- CFI has worked to strengthen public information – through labelling or posted notifications – about food products, foodborne illness outbreaks and food recalls. For example, CFI advocated for the revision of USDA’s safe handling instructions label on meat and poultry packages. Similarly, CFI successfully advocated for the labelling of mechanically tenderized beef products, which should be handled the same as ground beef products even though they appear to be intact. Labeling mechanically tenderized beef products protects consumers from foodborne illness by identifying the products and by providing consumers with adequate information about how to safely prepare and handle this type of beef.
- CFI has worked to improve data sharing around food safety within and between the public and private sectors. For example, in 2007, CFI became aware of ongoing data sharing problems between food safety surveillance agencies. In particular, CFI was concerned that USDA’s Agriculture Research Service (ARS) VetNet database, which subtyped the Salmonella Verification Testing Program isolates collected by FSIS, were not sharing the subtyped Salmonella data back with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) or moving it forward to CDC’s PulseNet. CFI met with agency officials and, as a result, FSIS and ARS strengthened their data sharing relationship and developed a cooperative agreement that ensures that FSIS can routinely access data for isolates in VetNet without having to submit a special request. Improved access to this information should enable FSIS to offer more assistance to its public health partners, to take swifter regulatory action to protect consumers and to increase efficiency in detecting clusters or outbreaks of foodborne illness.
- Microbiological testing and microbiological criteria are widely used by the public and private sectors to verify that food safety systems are working as intended. However, conducting effective microbiological testing programs and establishing associated microbiological criteria can be difficult given the destructive nature of testing food and the inconsistent distribution of pathogens within food. CFI has worked extensively to improve regulatory microbiological testing programs. For example, CFI has provided feedback on existing programs to agency officials through individual meetings, congressional briefings, and public comments; and recently collaborated on two risk assessments aimed at estimating the public health impact of implementing a semi-quantitative microbiological criterion for Salmonella in ground turkey and chicken parts.
- CFI has worked to translate science into policies and practices that improve food safety and public health. For example, CFI was engaged in the development and passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was the first major overhaul of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s food safety oversight in 70 years and shifts the focus from responding to food safety crises to preventing them. Since its passage in 2010, CFI has worked with FDA and other stakeholders to help implement FSMA, including commenting on proposed rules and regularly meeting with agency officials.
- 2019 - Tanya Roberts – Ewen C.D. Todd Control of Foodborne Illness Award (International Association of Food Protection Conference)
- 2018 - Barbara Kowalcyk – Ewen C.D. Todd Control of Foodborne Illness Award (International Association of Food Protection Conference)
- 2018 - Barbara Kowalcyk – Samuel Cate Prescott Award for Research (International Food Technologists)
- 2011 - Patricia Buck – Rotary National Service Award and the Paul Harris Fellowship and Medal (District 7280)
- 2011 - Barbara Kowalcyk, Patricia Buck, Polly and Ken Costello, Elizabeth and Michael Armstrong, Isabella Armstrong, Ashley Armstrong – Food Safety Champions Award (Pew Charitable Trusts)
- 2010 - Barbara Kowalcyk – LennonOno Grant for Peace
- 2010 - Barbara Kowalcyk – Huffington Post Ultimate Game Changer in the Food Category Award
- 2010 - Barbara Kowalcyk – Walmart Food Safety Award