Welcome to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service
podcast. Each episode 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, and packaged correctly. So turn
up your volume and listen in.
I’m with the FSIS Office of Data Integration and Food Protection. One of our
responsibilities is to help you – the small and very small plant owners and
operators -- protect your facilities and your products against a potential
incident of deliberate contamination. We do so because your reputation and
bottom line, as well as the health and safety of your customers, depend on
To help you with this protection, FSIS, along with industry subject matter
experts, conducted vulnerability assessments to understand where the
vulnerabilities were likely to exist. Once that was understood, we could do
a better job of providing guidance on what areas are vulnerable and the most
cost- effective way for you to protect those areas.
Certain meat, poultry and egg products are of more concern to us than
others, which is why we have already conducted vulnerability assessments on
Some of the vulnerability assessments we have conducted include the process
of making ground beef, hot dogs, link sausages, deli meat, chicken nuggets,
marinated cooked chicken, and liquid egg products.
Although we are required to protect the specifics of the vulnerability
assessment findings by classifying the information, we are able to use the
results of the assessments to develop guidance for you to help protect
possible vulnerable areas.
How did we decide which products to assess? We determined they had one or
more of the following characteristics:
- Large batch sizes which will contain many servings;
- Short shelf life such as a deli meat where many people may eat it
and get sick before it could be removed from distribution;
- Uniform mixing such as grinding which would allow a threat agent to
be thoroughly mixed; or
- Areas that are easy to access such as the brining containers or
combo bins where threat agents can be put into processing; Other factors
to consider include:
- Large serving size which allows for more of the threat agent to be
- Ability to disguise a contaminant through color or flavor;
- Absence of tamper-evident packaging;
- Products intended for children or the elderly;
- Products that are icons of American culture, such as pizza and hot
- Ready-to-eat foods that do not require additional, peeling or
- Imported foods or ingredients from countries with a history of
terrorism or political unrest.
Do the products that you process have any of these characteristics? If
so, you will definitely want to check out our guidance material which has
important suggestions for protecting your product and facility. It can be
found on the FSIS Web site at
www.fsis.usda.gov. Under “Browse by Subject,” click on “Food Defense &
Emergency Response” to get to these resources.
FSIS, along with industry experts, will continue to conduct new
vulnerability assessments as new products and new concerns in the
farm-to-table continuum present themselves. Also, FSIS will update the
existing vulnerability assessments every two years, along with industry, as
directed by Homeland Security Presidential Directive #9.
Why is Food Defense important to you? 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
firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about food
safety, try our web site at
Thanks for tuning in.