Defending Against Terrorism and Violence in the Food Supply


Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2015 by Allie Gallant

lemon-grenadeIt seems obvious when you think about it – how can you potentially cause wide-scale damage, in a way that can slip under the radar of your enemy? By attacking the food supply.

It’s a sinister thing to think about, and it’s not new. A quick internet search will uncover cases of food and water sabotage that date back to ancient Rome. Warfare is conducted on many fronts. And for some, any way you can compromise your enemy by weakening their defenses, or terrorizing their citizens, is not off-limits.

What Does Food Defense Mean?

First, it’s important to understand the difference between food fraud and food defense:

– Food fraud may have deadly consequences (e.g., the melamine added to dairy products in China that killed many and sickened thousands). But the perpetrators are chiefly driven by money. If people happen to get hurt in the process…that’s an unintended but acceptable side effect of their scheme.

-Food defense addresses international terrorism and violence (Click here for more on the issue). The perpetrators are driven by varying motives, but the intent is to hurt a population by tampering with livestock or crops during harvesting, production, storage or transport. This is considered agroterrorism. The perpetrators might also target processed foods during the processing, manufacturing, storage, transport, distribution or service phases of production. And what if they introduce an invasive species into our agricultural environment?

The implications of bioterrorism are just as catastrophic as terrorism delivered by conventional weaponry. We all need to be vigilant against the potential for such danger and take proactive steps to use tools that can systematically defend the food chain and increase global awareness of the risks.

Taking Action on Food Defense

So where do you start? Constructing an effective food defense strategy can complement your current food safety plan. Many of the major GFSI-recognized food safety standards include sections dedicated to food defense. Visit GFSR’s GFSI section to learn more about each one:

  • IFS Food Standard
  • BRC Food Issue 7 standard (voluntary module)
  • SGS PAS 96 food defense training from SGS
  • AIB vulnerability assessments and training
  • SQF (optional module)
  • FSSC 22000 (included in pre-requisite programs)

As with any efficient food safety plan, the key is to work smarter, not harder. Build on your current plan, and make food defense a part of your food safety culture. Train key employees on what to look for, and educate your employees as a whole to make food defense a common goal. Take advantage of free tools and resources, such as the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Defense Plan Builder and the Global Food Defense Institute to support your plan, and stay on top of new developments through GFSR’s food defense section.

The American Government takes this so seriously that it enacted the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness Response Act of 2002. This legislation was developed to help the country prevent, prepare for and respond to bioterrorism and other public health emergencies.

The food supply chain plays a critical role in the defensive front against malicious attacks on food and water supplies. Take action now, and help prevent possible calamity in the future. While there’s no way to guarantee safety, by using the resources and tools at-hand you can maximize your food defense strategy – and protect consumers who view your brand as a trusted source to feed themselves and their families.

About the Author

Allie Gallant is regular freelance writer and blogger with Global Food Safety Resource who is also one of our most valuable and recognizable contributors.

 

Interested in more articles like this? Visit GFSR’s web site today!

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