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The Crumbine Award: celebrating 50 years of excellence.

In 2005, the Samuel J. Crumbine Consumer Protection Award will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Held in high esteem by the public health community, the award is named in honor of Dr. Samuel J. Crumbine (1862-1954), a sanitarian-physician and public health pioneer who was renowned for his innovative methods of improving public health protection. Since 1955, the award has been presented each year to a local governmental health unit that has demonstrated unsurpassed achievement in providing outstanding food protection services to its community.

In honor of the 50th anniversary, previous winners were contacted and asked a couple of questions about the Crumbine Award. The responses were inspiring.

When the previous winners were asked what the most innovative idea to come out of a Crumbine Award-winning program had been, several previous winners voted for "the establishment of partnerships based on common public health interest and the removal of needless barriers between the regulators and those regulated." as Bob Pekich, director of the Environmental Health Division of the Snohomish (Washington) Health District, put it. One of the greatest outcomes of these partnerships has been increased outreach and education. For industry, this approach has meant developing voluntary or mandatory training and certification programs for food handlers; for consumers, it has meant the establishment of a grading system they can understand, as well as dissemination of information, particularly though the Internet in recent times.

Another innovative idea mentioned several times was the concept of risk assessment for critical food safety violations and food processes, followed by education and behavior modification to achieve long-term improvements in food safety.

When previous winners were asked how they had benefited from winning the Crumbine Award, they named recognition, whether at the national, state, or local level, as one of the most important benefits. The benefits went far beyond that, however. Winners appreciated the process of evaluating their own programs as part of the application procedure. "The entire application process is beneficial to a program. It requires one to evaluate and critique one's program, and helps to maintain a program that is cutting edge and in touch with the changing community we serve," wrote Steven J. Goode, environmental health manager in the Clark County (Nevada) Health District.

Another benefit relates to staff. According to Elizabeth A. Nutt, director of the Tulsa (Oklahoma) Health Department's Consumer Protection Division, "It [the award] has instilled a strong work ethic in all who have passed through our halls." Other previous winners commented that winning the Crumbine Award not only motivated current staff, but also allowed them to attract better staff. "Job applicants now search us out because they know we have a strong food program," wrote Tommye Schneider, director of the Division of Environmental Health of the Madison (Wisconsin) Department of Public Health.

Finally, previous winners mentioned that their quest for improvement didn't stop just because they had won a Crumbine Award. As David Ludwig, manager of Maricopa County (Arizona) Environmental Health, said, "We have not stopped, because once Crumbine is in your blood you are always looking for ways to improve." One of the ways previous winners have found inspiration is their work on the Crumbine Award Jury. For Colin Thacker, director of environmental health in Lake County, Illinois, "winning gave us the opportunity to review Crumbine applications and try some of the innovations we would have never thought of."

Perhaps J. Maichle Bacon, public health administrator of the Winnebago County (Illinois) Department of Public Health-Food Protection Service Program, said it best:
 The fact that the award was established and has endured over the past
 50 years is a reflection of its value in improving food protection
 practices across the country. By annually recognizing food protection
 programs that excel in their many aspects, the award has led to a
 historical trail of best practices. Each year, programs were able to
 build on the commitment and creativity of the award-winning programs
 that were identified before them. This created a ladder of food
 protection progress that probably could not have been accomplished
 any other way.

Samuel J. Crumbine would be proud.

Editor's note: The Crumbine Award is sponsored by the Conference for Food Protection in cooperation with the American Academy of Sanitarians; the American Public Health Association; the Association of Food and Drug Officials; the Foodservice & Packaging Institute, Inc.; the International Association for Food Protection; the International Food Safety Council; the National Association of County & City Health Officials; the National Environmental Health Association; NSF International; and Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. For more information on the award, go to
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:EH Update; Samuel J. Crumbine Consumer Protection Award
Author:Rosseth, Lynn M.
Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2005
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