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Food & Hotels

The Iowa Department of Inspections, Appeals, and Licensing is responsible for investigating restaurants and other businesses to ensure food code requirements are being followed.

Iowa’s Rapid Response team (RRT) investigates reported incidents of food code violations and food poisoning to prevent the spread of suspected and confirmed foodborne illness. DIAL’s management of up-to-date restaurant inspections, education about food safety for food-related businesses, and teams of food safety professionals work together to keep Iowa’s food supply safe for consumption, from restaurants to grocery stores.

Assessment Methods

DIAL's award-winning team has worked over the years to refine their assessment methods to quickly trace foodborne illness events to find the source of contamination and prevent further illness. Learn about the effective methods DIAL uses to protect Iowans from compromised food products.

Root-cause Analysis

The root-cause analysis method enables the RRT to quickly pinpoint the cause of foodborne illness and prevent additional people from consuming compromised products, by removing products from shelves, carrying out additional inspections, and assessing contaminants with State epidemiologists.

This FDA-approved method for efficiently getting to the root cause of an outbreak identifies the problem; establishes a timeline during which the problem has occurred; and identifies and analyzes factors that could have been the cause of the problem. After the root cause has been identified, the RRT collaborates with state and national agencies to take action to resolve the problem and prevent future occurrences. 

Food Contamination Prevention and Response

DIAL's RRT frequently analyzes the cause of foodborne illness outbreaks, but also works proactively to prevent compromised food quality in Iowa by:

  • Testing food samples in a lab environment;
  • Assisting with food safety-practices in the event of natural disasters (i.e., during the derecho response in 2020);
  • Onsite assessments from an environmental assessment team made up of specially-trained inspectors.

Collaborating to prevent foodborne illness

Ensuring that food remains safe for consumption is a shared responsibility across multiple agencies, organizations, and groups. Collaboration across agencies and groups allows DIAL to efficiently address immediate food safety concerns and prevent future outbreaks more effectively. The RRT regularly collaborates with the following groups, among others:

  • Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS)
  • Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH)
  • Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEMD)
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • State Hygienic Lab

Meetings to address food safety concerns and improve cross-departmental communication for food emergencies are held twice a month. Additionally, the RRT meets with HSEMD, the FDA, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and other key stakeholders to share updates and foster a collaborative response to food safety issues.