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FSIS

Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Food Defense Overview

What is food defense and why is it important?

Food defense is the protection of food products from contamination or adulteration intended to cause public health harm or economic disruption.

The food system within the United States continues to increase in complexity, diversity, and reliance upon interconnected domestic and global systems. Concurrently, the threat landscape and potential sources of intentional adulteration continue to evolve and increase in complexity, which could ultimately have a powerful impact on public health and the economy.

Potential Sources (Disgruntled Employees; Counterfeit/Tampering; Economic Adulteration; Outside Contractors; Extremists) & Impacts (Psychological; Economic; Loss of Confidence/Public Fear; Public Health Consequences) of Intentional Adulteration

Responsibility for the global food supply chain is shared across all levels of government (foreign and domestic) and through collaborative, public-private partnerships with industry. Developing comprehensive risk management systems to protect the food supply establishes a foundation for minimizing public health and economic impacts and ultimately promotes food security and resilience.

What is FSIS’s role in food defense?

Food defense continues to be a priority for FSIS. The Significant Incident Preparedness and Response Staff (SIPRS) within FSIS works with government agencies at all levels, industry, and other organizations to develop and implement strategies to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from intentional contamination of the food supply. FSIS promotes food defense by encouraging establishments to voluntarily adopt a functional food defense plan; implement food defense practices (including inside, outside, and personnel security measures); and conduct training and exercises to ensure preparedness.

The primary functions of SIPRS include:

  • Conducting vulnerability assessments;
  • Collaborating with Federal, state, local, and tribal governments, industry, and academic partners to promote food defense;
  • Developing and sharing guidance for developing and maintaining food defense practices, including functional food defense plans;
  • Identifying and implementing countermeasures and mitigation strategies;
  • Conducting analysis of food defense surveillance data;
  • Maintaining close relationships with the intelligence and law enforcement communities to educate collectors and analysts on food defense to better inform their work and enhance the exchange of information (e.g., Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center (CTAC), Infragard); and
  • Working with the scientific community on food defense research initiatives, integrated project teams, and risk assessment workgroups.

FSIS inspection program personnel perform food defense tasks in all regulated establishments to identify vulnerabilities that may lead to intentional contamination of product. These tasks also allow FSIS to understand food defense practices that are being implemented by industry, thus providing a better understanding of preparedness and ultimately guiding outreach and education activities. The data from the task are used to inform Measure 1.1.4.1 of the FSIS Strategic Plan 2017-2021, which measures the percentage of establishments that maintain food defense practices.

For food products not regulated by FSIS, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) works with other government agencies and private sector organizations to help reduce the risk of tampering or other malicious, criminal, or terrorist actions on the food and cosmetic supply. FDA offers a variety of food defense tools and resources, including the Food Defense 101 online course.

What is the relationship between Food Defense, Food Safety, and Food Security?

In order to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from threats and hazards of greatest risk to the food supply, it is important that preparedness efforts encompass food safety, food defense, and food security. While there are distinct differences between these three concepts, a comprehensive approach that addresses food safety, food defense, and food security considerations improves resilience and protects public health.

  • Food Defense - the protection of food products from contamination or adulteration intended to cause public health harm or economic disruption
  • Food Safety - the protection of food products from unintentional contamination
  • Food Security - when all people, at all times, have both physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2014)

Food Defense Topics

Food Defense Plan DocumentFunctional Food Defense Plan
Information on what constitutes a functional food defense plan and tools and resources that are available to help industry put a food defense plan into place.
Security guard walking fence line.Vulnerability Assessments
In order to better prevent and prepare for an intentional attack on meat, poultry, and processed egg products, FSIS conducts vulnerability assessments of these food systems.
Cargo ship on the water; port city in the distance.International Food Defense
An overview of FSIS’ involvement in international food defense activities, including workshops and other outreach initiatives.
Tanker truckFood Defense and Transportation
An overview of transportation-specific vulnerabilities related to FSIS-regulated products, including tools and resources the transportation industry can use to implement food defense security measures.
USDA employee looking at computer screen.Tools, Resources, and Training
A comprehensive list of food defense tools, resources, and training materials for both regulators and industry.

 

National Policies and Directives:


 

 

Last Modified Dec 12, 2019