Improving the Quality of Public Health Practice through PHAB’s Accreditation Program and the FDA Retail Program Standards

By Stephen Hughes, Consumer Safety Officer, Food and Drug Administration, and Amy Chang, Program Assistant, Environmental Health, NACCHO

For the past 15 years, the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (Retail Program Standards) have served as a model for the continuous improvement of retail food regulatory programs throughout the United States. Many of the retail food regulatory programs enrolled in the Retail Program Standards operate within a larger public health agency with a broad public health mission. As public health accreditation becomes more common for public health agencies, it is becoming more important for retail food regulatory programs to understand the relationships between the Retail Program Standards and the standards used for public health accreditation.

The Public Health Accreditation Board’s (PHAB’s) accreditation program defines the expectations for health departments that seek to become accredited and document the capacity of the health department to deliver the three core functions of public health and the Ten Essential Public Health Services. Similarly, the Retail Program Standards serve as a guide to regulatory retail food program managers in the design and administration of a retail food program and provide a means to recognize a program’s accomplishments.

Although each initiative targets different parts of a public health agency, they share many similarities, such as an emphasis on specific, measurable performance metrics and continuous quality improvement. Specific, measurable performance metrics, coupled with continuous quality improvement, will help public health agencies to improve the quality of public health practices.

To assist health departments in understanding that both initiatives complement each other and are not mutually exclusive processes, NACCHO and the Food and Drug Administration created the Crosswalk on Public Health Accreditation and Retail Program Standards. The document provides an overview of the two initiatives, areas of alignment, and examples of how specific documents generated during the Retail Program Standards process might be used to meet certain required documentation examples for the PHAB measures. The table below gives a broad overview of how PHAB’s accreditation program and the Retail Program Standards have many similarities. Access the full crosswalk in NACCHO’s Bookstore.

Broad Overview of Similarities between PHAB Standards and the Retail Program Standards



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