FUNCTION OF PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS IN THE PREVENTION AND MITIGATION OF POTENTIAL FOODBORNE DISEASE
The National Environmental Health Association located in Denver, Colorado, provides a prime example of the mission and functions of professional associations as they work to help create a better life for all people. The Association “facilitates the prevention of disease and injury and the promotion of good health while protecting and sustaining the natural environment for future generations through the control of physical, biological, chemical and radiological factors and by working with programmatic areas as well as personnel while conducting significant research to improve basic practices.” (The Association functions are listed under Best Practices below.)
Best Practices for Professional Associations
• Serve as the public voice and as an advocate for the profession in all topic areas at all levels of local, state, and national decision-making to provide accurate information and attempt to influence public policy in a positive manner concerning all areas and aspects of the environment and the health and safety of people.
• Improve the quality of environmental health services through developing the knowledge and skills of environmental health professionals.
• Protect and promote the profession by establishing appropriate standards for professional practice.
• Promote the sharing of Best Practices through work with technical and professional groups in developing those which are based on practical evidence-based techniques.
• Build coalitions with other professional associations, business, industry, and governmental agencies to improve access to quality, cost-effective environmental health services.
• Promote standardized educational efforts that respond to ongoing and future environmental health issues.
• Improve strategic planning and decision-making through the use of a variety of conferences and special meetings of experts.
• Build the professional environmental community through the Annual Educational Conference, Journal of Environmental Health, various educational programs, and consultations with members or others working in or interested in various aspects of environmental improvement.
• Establish and maintain a highly recognized credentialing and licensing program for environmental personnel who seek to be at the top of their professional field and which is necessary for maintaining employment and/or promotion. The premier credential issued and recognized internationally is the Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian certification.
• Provide continuing education opportunities in various environmental areas to enhance the knowledge and skills of environmental personnel as well as provide required knowledge for maintaining credentialing or licensing.
• Become involved in program evaluation and accreditation of collegiate programs to ensure that these programs meet the most recent standards of performance needed by students when they enter the professional field.
• Engage the global environmental health community in the exchange of pertinent information, new research, and Best Practices to resolve problems in an effective and inexpensive manner.
• Partner with other agencies to develop effective environmental health training in emergency response and preparedness.
• Provide extensive training and credentialing in food safety from the National Environmental Health Association utilizing highly qualified nationally registered environmental health personnel.
• Utilize research and development tools in a vast variety of environmental health areas to help produce actionable information that can be immediately utilized.
• Respond to immediate emergencies such as the recent outbreak of bedbugs by providing accurate information and resources to individuals, industries, and communities.
• Provide integrated pest management initiatives to help reduce potential vector-borne diseases while preserving and protecting the environment.
• Inform the public and train personnel in the large number of issues related to children’s environmental health and how best to prevent conditions that may affect these young people throughout their lives.
• Develop programs on the air, water, land use, energy, institutional environment, built environment, infection control, sewage, swimming areas, etc.
• Provide members’ services which provide information rapidly and efficiently as well as establish an ongoing training schedule to ensure employees are kept up to date concerning the latest Best Practices.
• Develop an institute food management training program provided by various professional associations and other sources.
The National Restaurant Association’s Serve Safe® program along with other food training programs are of great value to the industry and to the public. They are: Learn 2 Serve® from 360 Training; Food Protection Management Certification Program® from the National Registry of Food Safety Professionals; and Food Protection Manager Certification Program® from Prometric.
Best Practices for Special Food Management Training Programs
• All of the above programs should require that the individuals upon completion pass the comprehensive examination of the Conference for Food Protection/American National Standards Institute (CFP/ANSI).
Note: The FDA Food Safety Cooperative Agreement to Build Capacity for State and Local Regulatory Agencies has been awarded to the National Environmental Health Association.
This agreement, which is for a 5-year, $5 million cooperative effort, was announced on August 26, 2015. Its function is to develop and implement training which is badly needed by state, local, territorial, and tribal food and feed safety agencies. The National Environmental Health Association will also research the training needs for the Integrated Food Safety System inspectors and regulators and train instructors to meet the FDA Best Practices program. This is a major movement toward standardizing as well as improving the efforts of all regulatory agencies in food protection to prevent foodborne disease outbreaks and promote good health.