Indiana and Kentucky state health departments awarded Guzewich Award

The Indiana State Department of Health and the Kentucky Department of Public Health were recently awarded the John J. Guzewich Environmental Public Health Team Award for an effective joint response to a multi-state Salmonella outbreak.

Kentucky and Indiana both had recent reports of salmonella outbreaks. Using questionnaires, epidemiologists were able to trace the source of the infection - cantaloupes from Chamberlain Farms in Indiana.

"We are very proud to receive this prestigious honor," State Health Commissioner William VanNess said. "This award highlights the excellent teamwork among the State laboratories, epidemiology division and food protection program. Thanks to the immense amount of coordination internally, as well as with local, state and federal partners, we were able to prevent illness and potentially save lives."

The Guzewich Award is a new award from the National Environmental Health Association that acknowledges how local and state health departments and the national food safety system keep the public safe through effective health programs and emergence responses.

Both Kentucky and Indiana were nominated for the award by the Association of Food and Drug Officials and the Food and Drug Administration. It was presented at the Integrated Foodborne Outbreak Response and Management Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

In response to the outbreak, the Indiana State Health Department developed a new Food Safety Initiative for Indiana Wholesale Produce Farms to help improve food safety operations. The Indiana State Health Department also started a second initiative to help educate farmers on safety, provide technical support for agriculture workers and offer environmental evaluations.