A new study, “Factors Associated with Local Health Departments’ Initial and Continual Enrollment in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards: A Qualitative Study”, released by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) in January 2021 sought to uncover factors contributing to jurisdictions unenrolling or never enrolling in the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (Retail Program Standards). This study, conducted in 2020, found that a lack of support from state or parent agencies, competing priorities, and resource constraints play a major role in jurisdictions unenrolling or never enrolling in the Retail Program Standards.

The full study can be accessed on NACCHO’s website.

Abstract

Local health departments (LHDs) across the United States play a vital role in ensuring the safety of food sold in retail food service establishments, with about 78 percent of LHDs providing regulation, inspection, or licensing services of these establishments. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) developed the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (Retail Program Standards) to provide a voluntary national framework for retail food protection programs to build the capacity to perform essential functions and solve problems by helping environmental health practitioners assess and continuously improve the quality of their programs. The Retail Program Standards can help regulatory programs to reduce the occurrence of foodborne illness risk factors in retail food and food service establishments, and improve the services they provide to consumers and their regulated industries. The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) conducted this study in 2020 to identify and understand the factors contributing to jurisdictions unenrolling or never enrolling in the Retail Program Standards. Results showed that factors such as a lack of support from state or parent agencies, competing priorities, and resource constraints play a major role in jurisdictions unenrolling or never enrolling. This study concludes with recommendations for why retail food regulatory program managers could benefit from the continual collaboration of FDA, NACCHO, and partner organizations to build on existing opportunities providing funding, technical assistance, and other resources that encourage jurisdictions to enroll and continue to actively engage in the Retail Program Standards.

A woman stands near a bar wearing an apron. She is using a cloth to shine a glass.