NEHA April 2024 Journal of Environmental Health

graphic data as well as gauged the relevance of and exposure to key knowledge areas for retail food regulatory training. Using the data collected from the Training Needs Assessment, this article aims to further examine the demographic composition of the retail food regulatory workforce to inform workforce training needs and identify any demographic di’erences in job levels. Data from these demographic analyses can be used in conjunction with forthcoming analyses of the relevance of and exposure to retail food safety knowledge areas; findings can be used to design e’ective training materials and to plan for changing workforce needs.

Individuals who do not perform retail food regulatory duties or who hold primary posi- tions in the food industry or academia were directed to exit the survey. Participants were informed about the voluntary nature of their participation and the confidentiality of their responses. All data were de-identified prior to analysis. Ethical approval for this study was provided by the California Baptist Uni- versity Institutional Review Board (IRB# 028-2324-EXM). Survey Measures The Training Needs Assessment was devel- oped based on a thorough review of previous research, consultation with subject matter experts, close collaboration with FDA, and input from NEHA partners. The survey con- sisted of several sections and included infor- mation on demographics, job-related factors, and relevance of and exposure to training knowledge areas. Further details on survey development can be found in the first article of this series (Baker et al., 2024). Demographics • Location data were collected by allowing participants to enter their ZIP Code into a text-entry field; however, the option to provide location data was added to the sur- vey after it had already been available for 3 months. As a result, location data were not available for 32% of respondents. • Gender was measured categorically, with the option to self-identify as male, female, nonbinary, other, or choose not to self- identify. We report the frequency of all gender categories here; however, because respondents who chose other or nonbinary represented <1% of the total sample, we have excluded these individuals from fur- ther statistical analyses. Individuals who declined to self-identify were also excluded from the analyses. For statistical analyses, we created a binary variable for gender (i.e., male or female). •Age was measured ordinally, meaning that participants had the option to choose which predetermined range included their current age. • Race and ethnicity were measured by pro- viding several categorical options, includ- ing American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian or Asian American, Asian Indian, Black or African American, from multiple

cally marginalized individuals who mirror the communities in which they work—can improve public trust and advance health equity. Although the diversity of the EPH workforce has increased in recent years, more research is needed to identify how to better support and retain this diverse work- force (Balanay & Richards, 2022; Jadotte et al., 2023). Engaging the workforce in con- tinued training that incorporates cultural humility and support pathways to career advancement has been proposed as one way to improve retention (Kreuter et al., 2011; Zemmel et al., 2022). Continued atten- tion to workforce composition can help to inform these training needs; however, while there are data on the EPH workforce as a whole, data are lacking on the demograph- ics of EPH professionals who perform retail food regulatory work specifically. The National Environmental Health Asso- ciation (NEHA, 2024a) has been supporting environmental health workforce capacity building for nearly 90 years and strives to “build, sustain, and empower an e’ective environmental health workforce.” To pro- vide support to the retail food regulatory workforce, NEHA is working in partnership with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to administer the NEHA-FDA Retail Flexible Funding Model (RFFM) Grant Pro- gram. This program is designed to support state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) retail food regulatory agencies in conform- ing with the FDA Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (Retail Program Standards). Because retail food regulatory work is largely overseen by SLTT agencies using various approaches, the Retail Program Standards were developed to enable retail food regulatory agencies to use a universal approach to retail food safety (Food and Drug Administration, 2022). One of the goals of the NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program was to develop and imple- ment a method of assessing training needs in the retail food regulatory workforce. There- fore, NEHA developed the NEHA-FDA Retail Food Program Training Needs Assessment (Training Needs Assessment) to better under- stand where gaps and challenges in training exist and to help FDA bridge those gaps by developing new training or o’ering bet- ter access to existing training. The Training Needs Assessment collected detailed demo-


Training Needs Assessment For the Training Needs Assessment, NEHA administered an online survey to environmen- tal health professionals via the secure Sur- veyMonkey platform from June to December 2022. The survey was designed to be concise, taking <10 min to complete, on average. The primary objectives of the needs assessment survey were to: 1) gain insight into the exist- ing landscape of the food safety and regulatory workforce and training in the U.S. and 2) iden- tify any gaps in retail food regulatory training. Sample and Recruitment The target population for our survey included personnel and management in the retail food regulatory sector, spanning all governmental tiers including federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial levels. We calculated an estimated required sample size of 377 individuals to achieve a confidence level of 95%, a power of 0.8, and a margin of error of 5%. Participants were invited to take the sur- vey via email or QR code. Survey invitations included a brief introduction to the survey, its purpose, and a link to access the question- naire. Survey respondents were also recruited at the 2022 NEHA Annual Educational Con- ference & Exhibition, at NEHA state a©li- ate meetings, via social media, on the NEHA website, by direct outreach to FDA Retail Food Specialists, and via communications sent out by other associations with members in the regulatory food safety community. Throughout the data collection period, email reminders were sent to encourage individuals to complete the survey.


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