The FSSAI has issued a notice on 18 September 2018 calling for suggestions, views, and comments from stakeholders on the Codex proposed draft guidance for the management of (micro) biological foodborne crises/outbreaks. The objections or suggestions must reach the FSSAI office on or before 30 September 2018.
Codex Alimentarius has issued several guidelines on hygienic practice for food businesses and competent authorities on how to ensure food safety. Those guidelines focus on, e.g. prevention, monitoring and corrective actions in case of deviations in the production processes. Despite efforts to ensure a high level of hygiene, foodborne illness outbreaks still occur. The globalized food production, trade, and complex supply chains contribute to food safety gaps/breaches resulting in outbreaks of foodborne illness with a broader impact.
Foodborne illness can be mild with recovery in days or in some cases have severe consequences for the individuals with serious health effects or even death. Foodborne illnesses have huge socio-economic costs related to medical treatment, hospitalization and lost productivity. For food businesses the consequences can be lost markets, loss of consumer confidence and food purchases, litigation and company closures. Foodborne outbreaks can cause impediments to domestic consumption and international trade.
In order to be able to efficiently handle food safety [emergencies/incidents/events] local and national multiagency networks of preparedness should be in place to handle these situations. Such networks should use standardised methods and interpretation and transparent exchange of results is essential. Cooperation through international networks is equally essential and should be included in the structure. The Codex Alimentarius has outlined the principles for risk analysis which should form the framework for establishing a system preparedness and management of food safety
- risk assessment
- risk management
- risk communication
Molecular analytical methods contribute to link the clusters of human cases with the food source. Genome sequencing, for example, can result in improved detection of outbreaks and improved [outbreak/incident/event] management. This methodology is expected to lead to the detection of more outbreaks in the future and the need for enhanced preparedness.
The phrase “food safety [emergency/incident/event]” is used for simplicity throughout the document and covers such situations (regardless of size). Foodborne illness outbreaks caused by biological agents can be categorized according to the following criteria
- the number of cases and spread of the outbreak
- the disease severity and its consequences
- the population affected
- the pathogenicity of the microorganism
- the distribution pattern and volumes of the food
- trade implications
The risk management measures chosen will vary according to the situation. The decision to categorize an outbreak as an emergency or as a crisis is at the discretion of the competent authorities and will depend on their capacity and capability of handling food safety [emergencies/incidents/events].
This document collects guidance for preparedness and management of food safety [emergencies/incidents/events] through reference to relevant documents and recommends the use of new analytical technologies in outbreak investigation. The guidelines have also given relevance to International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN), a global network of national food safety authorities, managed jointly by FAO and WHO, for rapid sharing of information during food safety emergencies to stop the spread of contaminated food from one country to another. These guidelines provide guidance to competent authorities on the management of foodsafety[emergencies/incidents/events], including the communication between national and regional programmes with international networks.
Biological hazards are biological agents including microorganisms that have the capacity to cause harmful effects in humans. These include e.g. bacteria and algae, including their toxins and metabolites, viruses, natural toxins, prions, parasitic protozoa, and helminths.
- a) The observed number of cases of a particular disease exceeds the expected number.
- b) The occurrence of two or more cases of a similar foodborne disease resulting from the ingestion of a common food.
[A foodborne outbreak is an incident in which two or more persons experience a similar illness after ingestion of a common food, and epidemiologic analysis implicates the food as the source of the illness]
[Food safety emergency] Definition is given in CXG 19-1995.
[Food safety events]if necessary
[Food safety incident] if necessary
Surveillance is a systematic and on-going collection of test results from humans, animals or foodstuffs for the purpose of applying appropriate control measures. One of the main objectives of surveillance is to follow-up unsatisfactory results with an investigation and possible enforcement action.
Monitoring is the performance of routine analysis aimed at detecting microbiological contamination of foodstuffs from which useful prevalence data may emerge.
A cluster is in epidemiological terms, an aggregation of patients with the same disease (cases) closely grouped in time and place. In microbiological terms, isolates (e.g. bacteria or virus) having the same specific molecular profile or closely related profiles identified by laboratory analyses of samples from cases.
[Rapid risk assessment] if necessary
[Outbreak assessment] if necessary
FOOD SAFETY [EMERGENCIES/INCIDENTS/EVENTS] – PREPAREDNESS SYSTEM
Creation of formalized networks between human health and food and veterinary sectors at local and national levels
Foodborne illness outbreaks happen frequently and vary greatly in size and severity from local point source outbreaks restricted to a single location to prolonged diffuse national outbreaks or international outbreaks.
- National systems and structures should be in place in order to ensure early detection and to effectively manage food safety [emergencies/incidents/events] and should have sufficient infrastructure, capability, and capacity. The system should be a formalized network and should not be developed in isolation but be based on existing structures in the public health sector and food and veterinary control systems. The network should take into account e.g. surveillance and monitoring programmes for humans and food, laboratory networks and conditions for food production and distribution.
- The network and structures should be described in detail and agreed upon by the participants to ensure cooperation in mutual respect of the competencies and responsibilities of each participating authority and officially appointed agency and allow for an incident to be managed at the lowest possible administrative level.
- For the networks to be operational it is necessary that the participants know each other and have familiarity with the system and structures and that they use them as part of the “daily routines”. Depending on the national structures of competent authorities, a set of contact points should be appointed at the different levels of administration.
- At the local level defined networks between the contact points from the different relevant authorities/agencies covering the same geographical area should be formed. The contact points may be either persons or offices as long as it consists of personnel usually participating in the work at the local level – e.g. local food control authority, clinical microbiological laboratory, districts surgeon, community council and food/veterinary laboratory. The network contact points should ensure the exchange of information and manage the[emergency/incident/event] within and between the networks. The networks should establish channels to engage stakeholders and food business operators, where relevant, in order to exchange information to minimize adverse consequences.
- At the national level, a defined network should be established with senior personnel with experience in the management of food safety [emergencies/incidents/events] representing their respective authorities/agencies. Guidance on the composition of such a network can be found in the description of the multiagency coordination group (MACG) described in the FAO/WHO Framework for Developing National Food Safety Emergency Response Plans. The role of the network should include:
- coordination of efforts to resolve large, especially complicated or serious food safety[emergencies/incidents/events]
- support to local networks where needed
- assessing surveillance and monitoring data information received from the participating authorities/agencies
- assessing information received from the other levels and participants of the network as basis for management decisions
- communication with international networks
- The central network may also be the forum where new tools and ways to handle outbreaks can be developed.
- Communication between the local networks and between the local and national networks is crucial. Communication structures and practices should be included specifically in the description of the system and procedures for the network, with the following goals:
- To ensure that all available information is compiled to form as complete a picture of the incident as possible.
- The information is distributed to and understood by all parties in a timely manner.
- There is only one point of contact and a backup in each of the participating authorities/agencies and interested parties of official information.
- All parties use the established formal information channels, which are tested regularly to demonstrate they are effective.
- There is a system in place to ensure communication channels remain open (e.g. in the event of infrastructure brake down, staff absence, etc.)
- There is a practice in place for the use of external groups of experts in the validation of recommendations.
International alert networks for food safety [emergencies/incidents/events] and human illness issues and exchange of information with them
- Food safety [emergencies/incidents/events] do not respect borders either by area of distribution or by the origin of the source. What initially seems to be a national or regional incident at the outset may, in fact, be a multinational food safety [emergency/incident/event].
- The national level of the network should have a permanent connection with global networks including theInternational Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) and with regional alert networks for both food and human incidents. The central national level of the network should actively include the national emergency contact points for these alert networks in their work both for gathering and compiling information and for submitting coordinated information concerning active food safety [emergencies/incidents/events].
- Information from global networks may be useful for the work of the national networks even if the incidences described do not concern the country. A regular contact with the contact points of these regional and global networks are therefore essential.
Surveillance and monitoring systems (human, animal, feed, food, establishment environment) and their use in food safety [emergencies/incidents/events
Many biological food safety [emergencies/incidents/events] are initially identified through human illness surveillance data. However, data from surveillance and monitoring of animals, feed, food and the environment, including equipment of food businesses may also indicate an enhanced risk and are of value/assistance to help identify the source of a food safety [emergency/incident/event]. These surveillance and monitoring systems are essential tools for detecting foodborne outbreaks and should be used in an integrated approach (chapter 3)
In order to identify a foodborne outbreak, there is a need for continuous: Surveillance and monitoring of the “business as usual” situation of human illnesses from biological hazards and foods;
- As not all diseases are mandatory to notify to the human health authorities’ access to information on these cases need to be established and an assessment of the “business as usual” level should be made. This will enable the competent authorities to define when a number of cases should result in a notification of an outbreak.
- Quick centralisation and distribution of information through early warning systems; disease notification by medical practitioners to competent authorities should be made mandatory to the extent possible.
- Regular (e.g. weekly) analyses of the data in order to detect outbreaks in a timely manner.
In order to quickly detect food safety [emergencies/incidents/events], it is necessary to establish structures to exchange information between public health, food safety, and veterinary authorities. For sharing of surveillance data, it is necessary that data collected are comparable between sectors. Information exchange should be used both routinely and during food safety [emergencies/incidents/events] and may include:
- Regular exchange of information between the human health sector, competent food authorities and laboratories. The information should include new signals (increasing trends or suddenly elevated numbers of analytical findings/disease reports) from these sectors and follow-up on-going outbreaks.
- The use of standardized laboratory methods to allow comparability and sharing of laboratory data between human health, food safety, and veterinary sectors.
- Tools for sharing surveillance data and epidemiological information such as databases or data sharing sites.
- Tools for comparing and presenting data, such as phylogenetic trees can be used if surveillance data are based on genetic methods.
- Sufficient epidemiological data to evaluate the relevance of the source and to conduct traceback.
Except in the case of very rare foodborne diseases, there might be a need for molecular testing data of the isolates to detect and demonstrate a link between different cases. For example, for Salmonella, the traditional way of comparing data is by using serotyping. The increasing availability of such tests, including whole genome sequencing, is expected to increase the number of links between single cases, and thereby the number of outbreaks. Because of greater specificity, it is possible to differentiate clusters already identified sub-clusters. The use of databases containing comparable molecular testing results from humans, animal, feed, food, and establishment environmental sampling facilitates the detection and assessment of outbreaks and the search for the source of the contamination.
The use of whole-genome sequencing methods (WGS) for surveillance and monitoring purposes requires
- Sufficient laboratory capacity, specific equipment and trained personal
- Storage capacity of large amount of meta- and sequence data and the availability of bioinformatics tools to compare data in either national or open international databases for genomics. Fast and stable internet connections are a prerequisite.
- Sharing of WGS sequences in a form that is useful for comparison between the human health and the food control authorities, e.g. as CG MLST types.
- Considerations of legal requirements for sharing of data. If data are shared in public databases there may be a need for anonymizing the samples thus only allowing few metadata to follow the sequences.
Whole genome sequencing methods (WGS) are more costly than other typing methods which can be an obstacle to their implementation. Furthermore, the cost per analysis will be higher if the total number of tests
Risk assessment – structures for assessing risk
- A risk assessment during a food safety [emergency/incident/event] provides a sound scientific basis for the actions to be taken. Risk assessments can be particularly useful when there is a contamination event that has not been associated with illness in order to evaluate the potential for illness and to inform decisions on appropriate actions to mitigate risk.
- In a number of cases a ready-to-use risk assessment will be available, however, adaptations to the specific incident will be required (within a short timeframe) based on the information from investigations (especially chapter3)
- If a risk assessment is not available there might not be sufficient time to ask for a full assessment of the risk at hand. A “light” version of a risk assessment – a rapid risk assessment – or an outbreak assessment will be more practical.
- The rapid risk assessment or outbreak assessment includes the steps of a risk assessment but is based on the current data from the [emergency/incident/event] itself and if possible data from similar incidents. There is no time for collecting new evidence/data to fill in data gaps or to conduct larger literature studies. These types of assessments need to be updated regularly during the incident as information becomes available.
- Having structures in place to allow timely rapid risk/outbreak assessment are therefore an essential part of incident preparedness. They include but are not limited to:
- Lists of risk assessors and subject matter experts for specific hazards available within their area of competence
- Clearly prepared instructions on what is expected for these risk assessors and subject matter experts, including the scope of any risk assessment, taking into account the short deadline for the assessment
- Structure to ensure the direct and immediate submission of information from the outbreak investigations to the risk assessors and the possibility for them to ask for additional clarification from the investigators and/or implicated food business operators
- Availability of information analysis tools e.g. to detect hot spots (geographical areas or events with more than usual activity within the outbreak).
Risk communication system/strategy
- In the context of a biological food safety [emergency/incident/event], the term “risk communication” means the exchange of information on the biological risk among stakeholders (government, academia, industry, public, mass media and international organizations) outside the formalized network structure, with the aim to inform and motivate to action.
- Effective communication is essential and requires preparation in advance of an incident, and this should include the exchange of information with all stakeholders.
- In terms of risk communication, the preparedness should aim to;
- Establish a communication strategy among the network members and designate official spokespersons from the government or the central national network to the public and decide on the means of communication (websites, Twitter, Facebook etc.).Where it is possible, the jurisdiction of each of the competent authorities should be taken into account to set the roles of each one in the risk communication strategy.
- Identify all the types of organizations that may be involved and make alliances and partnerships with them to ensure that they will speak in a coordinated manner to deliver the appropriate information needed to minimize the risk to public health.
- Draft initial messages for the different situations that could potentially arise; specific details can be filled in later. Consider that each population group may have its own characteristics that affect how they perceive risks (e.g. religious beliefs, traditions), so that understanding the audience and testing messages to ensure they are culturally and demographically appropriate is important.
- Test established communication strategies on a regular basis to evaluate their efficiency.
FOOD SAFETY [EMERGENCY/INCIDENT/EVENT] – MANAGEMENT
- When a food safety [emergency/incident/event] occurs, the networks and structures established should be used to manage the situation through an integrated approach. Management of foodborne outbreaks will often be carried out under big pressure and time restraints. It is therefore important that each sector/participant carries out the tasks within their responsibilities according to the procedures decided upon for the networks. The following sections give information on the basic roles of the participants in the networks.
Identifying and investigating a food safety [emergency/incident/event] – human health side
- Careful description and characterization of the food safety emergency/incident/event] is an important first step in any epidemiological investigation. Descriptive epidemiology provides a picture of the[emergency/incident/event] in terms of the three standard epidemiological parameters – time, place and person.
- A foodborne illness outbreak is typically identified by
- a national or regional surveillance system when a cluster of human cases occurs with an identical or closely related type of infection or,
- The food control authorities when they are informed about illness related to specific products or companies. The information may be provided by consumer complaints, information from the public health sector or by the companies or businesses themselves e.g. a restaurant.
- Depending on the information available a case definition should be created. Cases that fall within the definition should be interviewed to obtain as much information concerning food items consumed prior to illness onset, place and date of purchase, brand name as well as information on travel, animal and environmental exposures, person to person contact etc. If possible, a standardized questionnaire for hypothesis generation purposes or standard epidemiological study methods such as case-control and cohort studies should be used to obtain information in a structured way (especially chapter 4.1 and 4.2)
- Creation of standard questionnaires for this purpose may be performed electronically using one of the internet based free of charge software. Data can then be analysed electronically in standard statistical software program.
Substantiate hypothesis and/or handling of a food safety [emergency/incident/event] – food safety side
- Food safety [emergencies/incidents/events] where a food source or a location has been identified during the epidemiological investigations should be followed by a thorough on-site investigation covering all aspects of the production, storage, transport, distribution and consumption to substantiate if it is possible that the food source or the location is actually the source of the outbreak. If possible the root cause of contamination should be identified and verification by sampling and analyses should be attempted (specifically chapters 4.3 and 4.4)
- Food safety incidents where the source of the outbreak is not yet known are challenging. If the epidemiological investigations do not reveal a source, the competent authority could use other information to inform their investigation of the cause of an outbreak. For example, historical outbreak data, information from the cases concerning food preferences, trade patterns, and knowledge of production, distribution, and consumer preferences may be helpful to narrow down the possible sources or locations causing the situation.
- Tracing a food item both backward and forwards in the food chain is an essential tool in the investigation. This does not initially include a recall of the food item from the consumers or a withdrawal from the market. The process should be used to enable the investigators to see the full distribution of the food item or products produced in a single production site. Although this approach can be resource consuming, it should be a key component in substantiating if the food item is the likely source of contamination and identifying the specific foods involved in the event when sufficient epidemiological and product data are available. The information gathered should be compared with the epidemiological information of the outbreak to see if cases are consistent with product distribution.
- If the overall evidence is strong enough that the source of the incident has been identified, appropriate risk management actions should be put in place. When a recall is identified as the appropriate risk management action, the same procedures of tracing back and forward in the food chain should be used in recalling the food item/batches of the food item from consumers, thus removing the source of the incident.
Comparing epidemiological and laboratory data
- Management of outbreaks benefits from the public health and the food and veterinary sectors being able to share and compare relevant laboratory surveillance and monitoring data in order to identify a match between a clinical isolate and a food source.
- In case of a match in serotypes, supplementary analysis is necessary to determine the probability of relationship. Typing methods often used are pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and multiple-locus variable number of tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) but in recent years, genetic-based methods like Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) have become widespread worldwide as microbial typing tools. These methods have several advantages over traditional typing methods as WGS reveals the entire bacterial genome and provides very accurate information which makes it possible to determine when isolates are highly related and thereby enhances the possibility to identify the source of the outbreak.
- The decision of the degree of correlation between strains should be decided upon as part of the case definition. The decided level may differ according to the typing method. For WGS no standard “cut-off” values in terms of degree of differences between strains (single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) is established. The differences acceptable counted in SNPs differ between agents and depends on the agent analysed. Interpretation of results will require bioinformatics specialists. Public databases can be used for comparing typing results and give information on related findings.
- Enough data to ensure traceability of the product sampled should be collected and this should at least include animal species, product type, batch identification, and place of sampling.
- Food safety [emergencies/incidents/events] involving illnesses cannot be solved solely based on laboratory data but must always be linked to epidemiological data for confirmation.
- Descriptive epidemiological data such as structured information on food consumed, disease onset, symptoms, duration etc. should be collected as part of the foodborne outbreak investigation. If possible an analytical epidemiological study should be performed (e.g. a retrospective cohort or case-control study).
- Other tools that can be used for hypothesis generation to determine the source of attribution in case of a food safety incident are sample monitoring, surveillance data, source attribution studies, and mathematical modeling. More detailed information on epidemiological tools can be found in the WHO Foodborne disease outbreaks: Guidelines for outbreak investigation and Controls
- Robust epidemiological evidence may be conclusive of the food safety incident even without positive laboratory results. Laboratory results can support the epidemiology but they will only be conclusive if the result is supported by at least some epidemiological information such as that obtained from the patients.
[Outbreak assessment / rapid risk assessment]
- In most cases, a risk assessment or adaptation of an existing risk assessment for the emergency specific situation should be carried out. Since risk management actions are needed urgently, a full risk assessment is not practical, but a simplified rapid risk assessment or “outbreak assessment” can be helpful to correctly target risk management activities. It includes:
- Historical information on the prevalence of the hazard in different food, in particular, if the source of the on-going food safety incident is not confirmed yet
- Results from epidemiological and microbiological investigations of human outbreak cases, considering severity, possible mortality, spread of cases and affected subgroups (e.g. elderly).
- Laboratory results and results from the epidemiological ( including tracing back) investigations
- Risk characterization linked to the outbreak
- If possible recommendations to the consumers and to competent authorities on how to mitigate the risk.
- Since such rapid risk assessments/outbreak assessments are likely to be carried out at any time in the outbreak investigation, constant communication should be ensured between the risk assessors and the outbreak investigators (on human cases and on food investigations):
- To ensure that most recent information is available to the risk assessors
- To formulate targeted questions. To allow the risk assessors to point investigators to gaps of information or hot spots(geographical areas or events with more than usual activity within the outbreak) detected, guiding further investigations.
- Food safety [emergencies/incidents/events] may start in one country but can travel rapidly to other regions and require rapid and clear response in terms of communication. INFOSAN can be used as a resource for risk communication messages in such instances to ensure factual information is being shared about an international food safety incident.
- At the beginning of an incident, during the period when information is being gathered, there may be confusion and intense public and media interest. Ideally, risk communication will provide stakeholders outside the formalized network structure with the information they need to make informed decisions.
- Some good practices that should be considered when elaborating the risk communication message to the public include but are not limited to
- Have one official communicator to speak to the public whenever practical. When more than one competent authority communicates with the public the authorities should ensure the messages are consistent.
- Information should be simple and in plain language for key points since the public may have limited familiarity with the scientific language.
- Acknowledge any uncertainties and make it clear that the recommendations are based on the best information available at the time. If there is a need to change the recommendations in the future, it is important to remind the public that earlier recommendations were based on information known at that time and explain why the recommendations were changed.
- Explanation of who the recommendation applies to and who it does not apply to and why.
- Do not withhold information just because it may be upsetting. If the information is lacking or cannot be released, an explanation of the cause and what is being done to address this situation is important. Identifying information gaps that will be addressed in the future informs stakeholders on the likelihood of additional communication.
- If possible, assemble a group of experts to validate recommendations within their domain of expertise.
- Repeat information and provide updates in a timely manner.
- Monitor the effectiveness of communications and adjust as necessary.
Documentation of the outbreak
- It is important to collect and save sufficient information to be able to document all relevant steps in the management of the outbreak using e.g. log books, both when it is on-going and afterward. During the incident, record should be kept which includes relevant traceback information and descriptive epidemiology, hypotheses and status of the situation. The record should be updated as needed while the food safety[emergency/incident/event] is on-going. When it is over, the record can be finalized to include conclusions and can serve as an [emergency/incident/event] reported
- For the documentation to be of future use to the competent authorities and institutions involved in food safety[emergency/incident/event]management it should be kept in a structured way and accessible at all times for the personnel involved in the work. This could be in the form of a database structure or in a shared file system accessible only to the relevant personnel/competent authorities.
- Information from the shared system should be reviewed regularly by the competent authorities. The information can be valuable for the food control authorities in targeting official control efforts.
- Outbreaks or [emergencies/incidents/events] of special interest should be considered for submission as scientific publications and shared through INFOSAN so that other food safety authorities can learn from the experiences.
Post outbreak surveillance
- In order to evaluate the effect of actions taken and to maintain the confidence of consumers and trading partners, enhanced surveillance, rapid centralization, and evaluation of data, in particular for human cases, should be continued until the baseline level has been reached or for new agents no further cases are observed, taking into account:
- The delays in analyses and reporting
- Possible seasonal effect
MAINTENANCE OF THE NETWORKS
Review of existing preparedness
- Competent authorities should continuously monitor, evaluate, improve and strengthen their existing network to ensure that it is functioning effectively and efficiently. This should include on-going strategic planning and review of objectives, priorities, needs, gaps, opportunities, and challenges, including both internal processes and interagency/ inter-stakeholder relations. The results of such review should be documented and areas for improvement addressed to support capability and capacity of the system in place
- Evaluation of the local and national network structures and associated procedures can be facilitated by joint training or joint exercises, to focus on specific objectives, priorities, needs, gaps, opportunities, and challenges. An “after-action review system” for food safety incidents should be implemented within the network.
- Evaluation of the national network, the member entities of the network and the efficiency of the network should be done on a regular basis. Restructuring and development in a governance system should be reflected in the network.
Joint training on food safety [emergency/incident/event]
- A key part of capability and capacity building is the training of experts and professionals. The training should be extended across different competent authorities and key stakeholders. The purpose should be to develop a common understanding of the entire system for local, national, and international preparedness. As part of the capability and capacity building, joint simulation exercises should be put in place.
- The exercises can aim at control/verification or learning/ development.
- Control/verification exercises are primarily aimed at testing the performance of the plan/system in place and the participants’ ability to carry out their responsibilities effectively, for example, an expert or professional handling a particular type of method or a procedure in the contingency plan. Participants should not be notified in advance of the exercise. These exercises can vary in both complexities, length in time and size of the organization in the number of participants.
- Learning and development exercises are more organized with the focus on the participants being required to achieve new competencies and capabilities. It may involve roles and responsibilities or the development and testing of new procedural concepts and plans. Joint simulation exercises are a proven concept in this setting. Advance notice about learning/development exercises should be given to provide participants with the opportunity to prepare, which can optimize the overall outcome and learning experience.
- The exercise type should be varied to include procedural exercises, dilemma exercises, and crisis management exercises. The different types of exercises can achieve different objectives, both in a control/ verification setting and in a learning/ development setting. The exercises can be done both in a live environment like a laboratory or in a tabletop form.
- Regardless of the type of joint training or exercise, it is important that the activity is put into a strategic perspective and that lessons learned are captured and put into a structured revision of the system where necessary.
Implementation of lessons learned
- The evaluation of national preparedness systems can include “after action reviews” of major, serious or rare food safety [emergencies/incidents/events]. The evaluation should include both competent authorities and agencies and if possible also comments from relevant stakeholders such as food business operators. The review should focus on commitment to participation, the use of resources, the sharing of information, and other essential issues. The review should be used to build a stronger system or network on an international, national or local level. The review should be disseminated in order to share the lessons learned broadly within the system. Ideally, dissemination would include information such as:
- What was the most notable success in the management of the incident that others may learn from?
- What were some of the most difficult challenges faced and how were they overcome?
- What changes, if any, to the national structure, procedures or analytical methods are recommended?
- What was not done to your satisfaction and what could be done differently next time?
The lessons learned should be included in the on-going development of capacity and capabilities of the international, national, and local system.