Public Health Associations Band Together to Combat Foodborne Disease and Death

January 23, 2023

ARLINGTON, VA—The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) has been awarded funding from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to advance retail food safety initiatives and reduce foodborne illness. The funding comes from the Retail Food Safety Association Collaborative Cooperative Agreement which also support three additional associations including the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO), National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), and National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).

The CDC estimates that each year about 1 in 6 Americans (48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases. The Retail Food Safety Regulatory Association Collaborative is dedicated to the prevention and mitigation of foodborne illnesses through new, smarter approaches to food safety.

ASTHO’s primary activities include supporting a Policy Academy that focuses on the promotion and adoption of the most recent FDA Food Code; and engaging state and territorial public health leadership around increasing enrollment in the Retail Program Standards. These activities will complement the work the Collaborative has already accomplished.

“ASTHO is looking forward to growing our partnership with the Retail Food Safety Regulatory Association Collaborative,” says Michael Fraser, PhD, ASTHO’s CEO. “As a member of the Collaborative, ASTHO will help ensure that decisions affecting our nation’s health and well-being incorporate the insights of state and territorial public health leaders.

“Food safety is a key component of ASTHO’s vision which is to advance health equity and optimal health for all,” says Anne Zink, MD, president of ASTHO. “State and territorial health officials and their agencies are vital players in the food safety system and look to ASTHO to provide a voice in national food safety discussions. This partnership will benefit Americans across the U.S. and its territories.”

As part of the Collaborative, ASTHO will work with the FDA to advance national retail food program long-term objectives. ASTHO will support the Collaborative’s six specific aims in partnership with the retail food regulatory associations. The aims are to:

  1. Develop a national Food Code adoption strategy, including the Food Code Adoption Toolkit.
  2. Improve the approach, competency, and food safety culture in the regulatory community.
  3. Increase enrollment, engagement, and conformance in the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards.
  4. Improve foodborne outbreak investigation methods.
  5. Increase the number of establishments that have well-developed and implemented Food Safety Management Systems.
  6. Develop a strategy to enhance communication and better tell our collective story.

Considering that food safety does not occur at one level or within one agency, the need to improve the coordination between all players, including those across state and territorial public health, is paramount.


ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely associated states, and Washington, D.C., as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in public health practice.