How Are Issues Considered and Decisions Are Made by the Coalition?
In order to deal effectively with the many ideas and issues which have come before it, the CRFSC established over time four working "subcommittees." Subcommittee A deals primarily with definitions and people; Subcommittee B deals primarily with things (e.g., equipment, utensils, and the physical characteristics of food facilities); and Subcommittee C deals primarily with food-safety science issues. Other subcommittees are established from time to time to address specific issues. Each of the subcommittees meets as frequently as needed given the number and nature of the issues which have been referred to it. The subcommittees then make recommendations to the entire CRFSC for its consideration and possible action.
Any person or entity which has an issue, or wants to propose a legislative change, related to retail food service is encouraged to bring the matter to the CRFSC. Generally, this is done by submitting an “issue submission form,” which sets forth the specifics of the problem in question and the proposed manner in which to deal with it. The entire CRFSC considers each issue submission form which it receives and decides to which subcommittee(s) the issue should be referred for analysis and recommendations. If a subcommittee decides to propose specific action on an issue, such as the introduction of legislation, it refers the matter back to the entire CRFSC for its action.
Except as described below, all CRFSC members are entitled to vote on all matters which come before the full CRFSC, and decisions are made by majority vote of the CRFSC members present at a meeting.
There is one vital exception to the “everyone has a vote” rule mentioned above. One of the most important factors which has resulted in the success of the CRFSC is the right of each of the core constituency groups to cast a veto in connection with any vote regarding the proffering of a CRFSC-sponsored legislative bill or regulation. This is just like the Security Council at the United Nations. Therefore, each of the core constituency groups can feel secure in the knowledge that its interests cannot be trampled by a simple majority of those individuals who happen to be present at any given CRFSC meeting. For purposes of this critical veto function within the CRFSC, there are, again, three core constituencies: (i) the retail food service industry, (ii) local food safety enforcement agencies and personnel (i.e., environmental health professionals), and (iii) California state retail food safety and health professionals.
The right to veto a CRFSC legislative or regulatory proposal is implemented in the following manner:
1. Retail Food Service Industry
(A) The California retail food service industry is very diverse and ever changing. It obviously includes restaurants of all types, food retailers (e.g., supermarkets, grocery stores, chain drugstores, and other markets), lodging establishments of all types (e.g., hotels, bed and breakfast inns, timeshares, guest ranches), certified farmers markets, county fairs, nonprofit fund-raising activities, “carts” and similar mobile devices (e.g., coffee and taco carts), food service operations in schools, hospitals, assisted-care facilities, adult-care facilities, and child-care facilities, and nonprofit and for-profit elderly nutrition programs (e.g., “Meals on Wheels”).
The CRFSC works to insure that each segment of the retail food service industry is adequately represented on the CRFSC and has a vote, as appropriate to the nature and extent of its particular interests.
(B) The CRFSC's participants recognized from the outset that there exist far too many organizations, such as trade and professional associations, retail business enterprises, and individual interests which are involved in some manner or other in retail food safety issues to permit everyone to have a voting "seat at the table" and still be able to operate in an effective and efficient manner. It was decided for this reason that where there is a recognized organization that (i) represents the interests of an identifiable segment of the retail food service industry, and (ii) has its own internal decision-making process which enables it to take a public policy position regarding a retail food safety issue that will represent that segment's position, that organization would be recognized as the entity entitled to cast a vote within the CRFSC on behalf of that industry segment. To date, the following trade groups have been recognized as voting members for their respective retail food-service industry constituencies:
Lodging Establishments - California Hotel & Lodging Association
Restaurants - California Restaurant Association
Food retailers (e. g., supermarkets,grocery stores, chain drugstores, convenience stores, and other markets) - California Retailers Association and California Grocers Association
Temporary and Mobile Food Operations and Facilities - Western Association of Fairs and Orange County Cart Association
Certified Farmers Markets - CA Fed. Of Certified Farmers Markets and Southland Farmers Market Association
The CRFSC has developed operating policies which spell out how entities are selected to represent retail food service segments.
2. Local Environmental Health Professionals
The interests of local environmental health agencies and environmental health professionals, and their vote, are represented on the CRFSC by the California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health (CCDEH).
3. California State Retail Food Safety and Health Professionals
The interests of California state environmental/food service health professionals, and their vote, are represented on the CRFSC by the Food and Drug Branch of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). As a state agency, CDPH is typically forbidden from taking a formal position on issues involving potential legislation or matters of public policy unless and until specifically authorized to do so by the governor's office. In such situations, CDPH serves solely as an advisory entity to provide the CRFSC with its best thinking on appropriate ways to enhance the level of retail food safety in California.
In order to achieve the greatest possible degree of input, all interested parties are welcome to attend CRFSC meetings and subcommittee meetings. Any interested party can submit an issue for consideration. All those who participate in subcommittee meetings are entitled to vote at those meetings.