What is FoodSHIELD?

FoodSHIELD is a web-based system for communication, coordination, education, and training among the nation’s food and agriculture sectors. This secure system allows public health and food regulatory officials at the local, state, and federal levels across the nation to work together. It also helps communicate food safety information among other government agencies.

Farm to Fork, Field to Table, we aim to support the sector to create a safe environment for food consumption for citizens.

FoodSHIELD Mission

To support federal, state and local governmental regulatory agencies and laboratories in defending the food supply through web-based tools that enhance threat prevention and response, risk management, communication and asset coordination, as well as public education.

Achieving the Mission

One step to achieving the mission is the free membership that FoodSHIELD offers to any government official working in the arena of food safety and food regulation. This is done to encourage the maximum number of users and increase collaboration through the whole food safety sector. The strategy implemented for FoodSHIELD is driven by the CoreSHIELD platforms overarching strategic plan.

FoodSHIELD currently has registered participation from labs and regulatory agencies in all 50 states. Through their contributions, core database systems LabDIR and FoodAgDIR are well positioned for growth and critical data aggregation to provide real-time response and gap analysis for the Food & Ag Sector. All participants contribute to AgencyDIR, a CORE (Common Organization Registry Environment) activity, by profiling their roles and responsibilities against normalized activities within the sector. Currently comprising officials from Federal, State, and local agencies, all-hazards searching capabilities are greatly enhanced. It drives critical outreach and response activities down to minutes of effort to identify and begin to coordinate across a diverse set of roles and responsibilities that may be needed for each unique event.

As a rapidly maturing infrastructure, more than 1000 workgroups actively use FoodSHIELD to plan, coordinate, and develop new strategies for food defense and protection. More than 80,000 minutes are logged each month using our core webinar capabilities allowing easy collaboration amongst stakeholders and participants across the sector. Impressively, many of these workgroup participants represent different agencies and states providing for the first time true collaboration and coordination capabilities across federal and state boundaries.

FoodSHIELD has begun enabling national outreach and training from previously regional activities. North Carolina’s Food Safety Forum held in August, 2009, was live streamed across the nation through our seminar capabilities allowing a wide population of food officials to gain additional knowledge from very talented speakers. Many virtual summits and distance collaboration soon followed.

As part of our charter, we have further enabled rapid training and outreach capabilities. A federal agency needed to rapidly train all labs under its purview on a new testing procedure. Complete training time was reduced to just under 1 hour to bring all labs into compliance with the new methods by providing a presentation, streaming training video, and live subject matter experts to provide Q & A. Further, the session was recorded for future training needs.

These are a few highlights to demonstrate the wide array of functions FoodSHIELD currently serves, and we seek to increase out capacity to further these critical activities.

FoodSHIELD has also been awarded honorable mention in national systems competitions in both 2007, 2009, and 2010. The Adobe MAX competitions look for the best web based projects throughout the country. We are proud to be recognized for excellence in collaboration and public sector projects.

FoodSHIELD got its start with the creation of LabDIR as a result of the National Food Safety System (NFSS) Laboratory Operations & Coordination Workgroup vision of transforming a paper-based directory into a web-based directory designed for easy access. Discussions with the FDA, USDA, Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), and AAVLD (American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnostics) identified the need for a searchable web-based directory across the full spectrum of farm-to-table laboratories as well as clinical laboratories that respond to outbreaks and food safety concerns.

It was later decided to develop an expanded prototype of this comprehensive laboratory directory to model concepts and features being requested by diverse groups and officials responsible for emergency response encompassing the entire food and agricultural farm-to-fork continuum.

Hence, FoodSHIELD came to exist as a comprehensive infrastructure supporting the protection and defense of our food and agricultural resources as a whole-including the scientific and technological diversities of the laboratory community.

Achieving the Mission

FoodSHIELD was founded on grassroots efforts and continues its legacy of open and transparent feedback mechanisms to the development team in order to build a better system for the Food & Ag Sector.

Initial funding for FoodSHIELD was provided by grants from U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food Protection and Defense Institute (FPDI), a Homeland Security Center of Excellence. FoodSHIELD start-up development has occurred under a USDA CSREES grant to AFDO, FPDI and University of Minnesota researchers.

FoodSHIELD is the largest portal on the CoreSHIELD platform. CoreSHIELD operates on a collaboration model in which infrastructure and costs are shared among stakeholders and sponsors. Following initial development, FoodSHIELD operational costs were co-funded by the FDA, USDA, and DHS. Currently, the FDA, through an Integrated Food Safety System grant, is the primary funder of the FoodSHIELD platform.  In addition, the IFSS funding supports portals for the Coalition of Food Protection State Task Forces, the Partnership for Food Protection, and the Animal Feed Network and partnerships for several multi-agency initiatives. The USDA provides funding for the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) and the APHIS Laboratory Network (NAHLN) portals.

FoodSHIELD is also supported through its partnership with the Association of Food and Drug Officials. AFDO has provided contributions through both direct costs and in-kind contributions of over 200 state officials who firmly believe in FoodSHIELD’s potential.

FoodSHIELD Mission

By combining funding from multiple agencies, FoodSHIELD allows stakeholders to leverage existing investments in technology and through this common integration build from the best ideas of all stakeholders.