The Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) has received a government award that will allow it to help integrate the national food safety system.

On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) anounced that AFDO would receive additional funding under the Alliance for Advancing a National Integrated Food Safety System (Alliance)’s Cooperative Agreements Program.

The competition was announced in June of this year. It offered a $500,000 grant to the recipient, who will work with FDA to promote long-term changes to the national food safety system by helping public agencies collaborate with one another to cope with threats to the food supply.

Enhancing interagency coordination in combating foodborne illness is a key requirement of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), approved by Congress last December.

In the past, the government has been criticized for the divided nature of its food control system (FDA monitors certain foods, while the U.S. Department of Agriculture regulates others), and for some breakdowns in communications among various federal, state and local health departments during foodborne illness outbreaks.

One goal of FSMA is to harmonize government efforts in preventing and investigating foodborne illnesses.

“We are excited to award this cooperative agreement to further advance a national integrated food safety system which supports the provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act,” said Joe Reardon, FDA Senior Advisor for Federal-State Regulations. “A national integrated food safety system will increase the capacity of federal, state and local officials to mitigate the impact of foodborne illness, to advance public health and maintain a safe food supply for US consumers.”

AFDO says it will use the grant to augment its existing activities, including maintaining a Directory of State and Local Officials, Registry of Subject Matter Experts, Topical Index of Regulatory Guidance, Program Manager Information Portal and conducting the State Food Safety Resource Survey.

In addition, it will work with FDA to take the following new steps:

– Establish a network of manufactured food program managers and organize an annual meeting of this group

– Develop and implement pilot projects to support the Manufactured Food Regulatory Program Standards (MFRPS)

– Collaborate with partners to develop and deliver food safety and defense training programs

AFDO is a York, Pennsylvania-based non-profit organization that works to shape government regulations surrounding food, drugs, medical devices, cosmetics and product safety and to ensure that agencies adhere to these rules and recommendations.