Defense plans needed to combat food terrorism

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

US food processors and manufacturers are being urged to implement defense plans to protect products from deliberate contamination by terrorists or disgruntled employees.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced it would be encouraging companies that presently have no food defense plan in place to think again. The safety body said it would be sending letters out this month to processors and manufacturers who said they lacked a plan when asked in a survey in 2008.

Our sister site contacted the FSIS to find out how many facilities presently had no defense plans, but had received no answer before publication.

Intentional contamination

Food defense focuses on protecting the food supply from intentional contamination, with a variety of chemicals, biological agents or other harmful substances by people who want to do us harm, said a FSIS circular.

It added: “These agents could include materials that are not naturally-occurring or are not routinely tested for. An attacker’s goal might be to kill people or disrupt our economy. Intentional acts are generally not reasonable and are hard to predict.”

Terrorists, angry former employees and suspect suppliers are just three of the groups who may wish to adulterate food, it warned.


The body’s Inspection Program Personnel (IPP) will be discussing the need to voluntarily implement a plan with plant management. In addition, a new general food defense plan is being mailed directly to bosses at these establishments, and another food defense plan survey will follow in December. The FSIS said if the company believes the general plan is sufficient for its need, it has the choice to adopt this as their food defense plan.

“Establishment management would only have to sign the cover sheet and maintain the plan in the establishment’s files,”​ said a FSIS statement.

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