Food Safety on Tribal Lands

Speakers: Fan Robinson, RS, RES

Director, Division of Environmental Health Services

Indian Health Service Albuquerque Area

Celeste L. Davis, REHS, MPH

District Environmental Health Officer

Indian Health Service Albuquerque Area, Santa Fe Office

Michelle Gomez, CEHT, CFSP

Environmental Health Technician, Jicarilla Apache Nation

Level of Knowledge: Multi-Level

 

Short Abstract:

Food safety activities in tribal communities are not well understood. This presentation will provide information on the activities of the Indian Health Service and tribal environmental health specialists to ensure safe food for the residents and visitors.

The focus of this presentation is to highlight the unique nature of food safety on sovereign tribal lands, to explain the role of the IHS in food safety activities at both the regional and local levels, and to highlight the role of tribal environmental health specialists in ensuring safe food in their communities.

Long Abstract:

Food safety activities in tribal communities are not well understood. This presentation will provide information on the activities of the Indian Health Service and tribal environmental health specialists to ensure safe food for the residents and visitors.

The focus of this presentation is to highlight the unique nature of food safety on sovereign tribal lands, to explain the role of the IHS in food safety activities at both the regional and local levels, and to highlight the role of tribal environmental health specialists in ensuring safe food in their communities.

Food safety activities in Native American communities are a unique blend of science, traditional tribal customs and practices, guidance documents such as the Food Code, and the preferences of tribal sovereign governments. Food service activities on a reservation offer a unique viewpoint of versatility. Communities are constantly having cultural activities and fundraisers, sometimes literally out of the back of pick-up trucks. Protecting tribal members and making sure basic food handling principles are followed is a challenge that can be overcome through a combination of education and enforcement.

The food safety activities conducted on tribal lands, and the entities that perform them, are not well understood. Information will be given on the general role of the Indian Health Service in ensuring food safety, the activities of the Albuquerque Area concerning food safety, and tribal food safety activities.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Define the role of IHS and tribes in ensuring food safety
  2. Compare the unique opportunities and challenges of food safety activities in tribal communities to those of regulatory food agencies
  3. Identify and apply successful approaches to food safety in a non-regulatory environment, including education by example and reinforcement