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will bring you cutting edge news and information about how FSIS is working to ensure public
health protection through food safety. While we’re on the job, you can rest assured that
your meat, poultry, and processed egg products are safe, wholesome, properly labeled,
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I’m with the FSIS’ Office of Data Integration and Food Protection. Today I’d like to
talk about securing your warehouse and distribution centers to minimize the risk of
intentional contamination of your food products or supplies.
As warehouse and distribution center owners, you may already have a food defense or
crisis management plan in place to reduce the chances of someone intentionally
contaminating your food products to harm people, disrupt the economy, or ruin your
business. The plan should contain food defense measures in at least these 5 main
- Outside Security;
- General Inside Security;
- Shipping and Receiving Security;
- Mail Handling Security; and
- Personnel Security.
How can you ensure that your warehouse or distribution center is safe from
intentional contamination in these areas?
For starters you can review your food defense measures that are currently in place at your warehouse for
- Are your facility’s grounds secured to prevent entry by unauthorized persons?
- Are your outside doors and gates, loading dock doors, trailer truck bodies,
truck hatches, and railcars secured with locks, seals or sensors when unattended?
- Does your warehouse or distribution center have food defense procedures for
people and vehicles entering the facility and parking in your lot?
Now how about your warehouse general inside security. What defense
measures do you have inside your facility?
- Is there an emergency lighting system in the facility?
- Does your building have an emergency alert system that is tested regularly?
- Are visitors, guests, and other non-employees restricted to non-product areas
unless accompanied by an authorized employee?
- Does local law enforcement, including the fire department, have up-to-date
copies of facility layouts and blueprints?
- Are hazardous materials and chemicals such as pesticides, industrial
chemicals, cleaning materials, and disinfectants secured at all times?
- Is your access to inside and outside storage areas for these products
restricted in some manner to allow use by designated employees only?
- Is a regular inventory of these products maintained?
- Is a procedure in place to receive and securely store and/or dispose of
Warehouse and distribution centers should also have food defense procedures in
place for shipping and receiving.
When handling outgoing shipments from your warehouse or distribution
center, you should make sure that:
- outgoing shipments are sealed with tamper-evident seals;
- outgoing shipment seal numbers are documented on the shipping documents; and
- a bill of lading is maintained for all outbound activity.
When handling incoming shipments in your warehouse or distribution
center, you should make sure that:
- you have controlled access to your loading docks;
- that you immediately investigate suspicious alterations in shipping documents;
- that incoming shipments are sealed with tamper-evident, numbered seals.
Make sure that your plant follows the procedures outlined in FSIS Directive 9010.1
for returned U.S. exported products.
Warehouse and distribution centers should also have food defense procedures in place
to ensure that mail is handled in a secure manner.
- For instance, mail handling activity should be conducted outside operations,
such as in a separate room or facility away from operations.
- Mail-handlers should be trained to recognize and handle suspicious pieces of
mail according to U.S. Postal Service guidelines.
For helpful information, please visit
Last but not least, you should have the following food defense procedures in place for ensuring that personnel adhere to security requirements:
- Conduct background checks on all employees and contractors working with
- Train all employees on security procedures during orientation; and
- Use controlled access for employees and contractors upon entering the plant
during working and non-working hours.
Now you have an overview of some of the food defense security measures for
warehouse and distribution centers to reassure their customers that their food
products are safe and secure to the greatest extent possible. For more information and
a copy of our Warehouse and Distribution Centers Self-Assessment Checklist, please
visit the FSIS Web site at: www.fsis.usda.gov.
Under “Browse by Subject,” click on “Food Defense & Emergency Response.” On the right
side of this page, click on the “Guidance Materials” button and this will take you to
the page with the checklist. This checklist outlines, in detail, measures you can take
to protect your customers and your livelihood.
“So why is Food Defense important?” It’s about protecting Your Customers, Your
Employees, and Your Business.”
Well, that’s all for this episode. We’d like your feedback on our podcast. Or if you
have ideas for future podcasts, send us an e-mail at
email@example.com. To learn more about food safety, try our web site at
www.fsis.usda.gov. Thanks for tuning