Geni Wren The Food and Drug Administration has developed FREE-B, The Food Related Emergency Exercise Boxed set which is a compilation of scenarios based on both intentional and unintentional food contamination events. It is designed with the intention of assisting government regulatory and public health agencies in assessing existing food emergency response plans, protocols and procedures that may be in place, or that they are in the process of revising or even developing.
The FREE-B is a set of five scenarios, and through table top exercises, these scenarios look at: traceback of a contaminated product; traceback/investigation in a cluster of illnesses from a foodservice operation; epidemiologic investigation of human illness and identification of food source contamination; animal disease (such as FMD) introduction; and intentional contamination of raw meat at a processor.
High Plains Harbinger FMD exercise
Of interest to veterinarians is the “High Plains Harbinger” scenario that focuses on the investigation of animal disease caused by intentional infection of cattle wit FMD virus, highlighting the various animal agriculture agencies and their roles and responsibilities, as well as introducing the roles and responsibilities of veterinarians and law enforcement agencies during an animal health emergency.
The hypothetical situation in this exercise it that terrorists spray an unidentified liquid on cattle in two cattle trucks at a truck stop, and then those two cattle trucks go their separate ways to one operation in the middle of the state and one that borders other states. A week or so later when cattle appear to be ill, a preliminary investigation begins and the rest of hypothetical situation continues on through a five-month period.
The four modules in the FMD exercise include pre-incident, early outbreak, continuing outbreak and late outbreak and aftermath. It also includes a power point presentation on the High Plains Harbinger exercise as well as a detailed situation manual and steps for each entity involved such as veterinarians, producers, government officials and law enforcement. During the tabletop exercise, participants will assess plans, policies and procedures and think about how they would realistically apply them in the event of an incident. The High Plains Harbinger exercise takes seven hours to complete.
Among other objectives, after going through this hypothetical situation, participants will be better prepared to analyze the situation and determine what other resources, if any, are required to successfully complete the investigation of the animal health issues and possible impact on human food.
The FREE-B materials can be downloaded for free from the FDA here. Veterinarians can also download the High Plains Harbinger exercise by itself.