Preparation and Prevention
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. Based upon its assessments, FSIS develops countermeasures to protect the food supply. The agency also conducts research activities and develops guidance materials and food defense training programs. These initiatives are conducted in collaboration and coordination with other federal, state, and local partners, including universities and industry.
- CARVER+Shock Primer (PDF Only)
- CARVER+Shock Software Tool
- SPPA Status Reports - First Year (2006) (PDF Only) and Second Year (2007) (PDF Only)
FSIS has completed over twenty vulnerability assessments on meat, poultry, and egg processing systems (using the CARVER+Shock methodology). Assessments identify the most vulnerable food products, the critical points in the system where adulteration could occur and the threat agents of greatest concern. (These are classified documents.) Results from the vulnerability assessments guide the agency's allocation of laboratory and personnel resources, the development of guidance materials for industry and the identification of countermeasures. FSIS' vulnerability assessments are collaborative in nature and have involved industry representatives, Federal, State, local, and international government officials, tribal nations and law enforcement agencies. As directed by HSPD 9, the vulnerability assessments are to be updated every two years.
Some assessments have been conducted as part of the Strategic Partnership Program Agroterrorism (SPPA), which was completed in 2008. The SPPA was an FBI-led partnership with FSIS, FDA and DHS, that brought other Federal, State, and local officials and industry representatives together to conduct vulnerability assessments on a variety of food commodity systems.
SPPA First Year Status Report (Sep 2005-Jun 2006; PDF Only) and SPPA Second Year Report (Jul 2006-Sep 2007; PDF Only)
These reports provide details about what has been accomplished and learned from the vulnerability assessments conducted during the first and second years of the initiative.
Education & Training
FSIS' countermeasures include training and education activities for industry, agency personnel, and other stakeholders to raise awareness of food defense issues. This includes how to conduct self-awareness assessments and issuing resources for industry such as guidance for developing food defense plans. FSIS field employees receive training on how to identify and report significant incidents and suspicious activities.
FSIS collaborated with FDA to provide food defense awareness training, targeted to Federal, State, and local regulators, law enforcement officials, and food program administrators. The training is available online.
FSIS issued internal Directive series 5420 to provide detailed courses of action that agency personnel in each program area will take during yellow, orange and red homeland security threat levels, as designated by DHS. For example, Directive 5420.1, describes the additional food defense procedures that FSIS in-plant inspectors will take at meat, poultry and processed egg processing plants based on the DHS threat level. Food defense vulnerabilities are reported by inspectors and are reviewed to determine how successfully industry is voluntarily protecting the food supply. Of special concern, is where there is insufficient technology available to industry to provide adequate protection. Other areas in the series include In-Commerce, Laboratory Sampling, and Import Re-Inspection.
Additionally, FSIS has incorporated a homeland food defense module in its nine-week course for Public Health Veterinarians which focuses on the PHV's role and inspection activities related to food defense, detecting foreign animal diseases and symptoms of chemical, biological, or radiological (CBR) contamination.
FSIS has a very active preparedness exercise program aimed at enhancing response capabilities within the Agency and strengthening ties with its external partners. FSIS' Emergency Coordination Staff (ECS) develops, conducts and participates in the numerous preparedness exercises held every year.
For more information about past exercises, or upcoming ones, please contact the ECS Staff at (202) 690-6486.
- Resource/Guidance Materials
- Food Defense 101 Training (FDA)
- National Infrastructure Protection Plan (DHS.gov)
- Food and Agriculture Sector Snapshot (PDF Only)
FSIS has developed food defense guidance for food processors, transporters, and distributors of meat, poultry, and egg products which provide recommendations on actions they can take to ensure that the products they produce and distribute remain safe and secure. These are available in multiple languages on the FSIS Internet site.
FSIS, in collaboration with FDA, also developed a vulnerability assessment training program for industry and conducts training sessions around the country for various industry groups.
In addition, FSIS, in conjunction with industry, issued Developing a Food Defense Plan for Meat and Poultry Slaughter and Processing Plants (PDF Only), to assist plants with adopting food defense plans. The guide provides an easy 3-step process that will result in a completed food defense plan specific to that facility.
Also in conjunction with the warehouse and distribution center industry, FSIS developed A Guide to Developing Food Defense Plans for Warehouse and Distribution Centers (PDF Only).
FSIS developed a general Food Defense Plan to assist Small and Very Small establishments with the voluntary adoption of a plan. The plan serves to document procedures that an establishment likely already has in place. In addition, the plan will provide guidance on how to maintain a functional plan through periodic reviews and annual testing of the plan.
The agency currently monitors FSIS-regulated meat, poultry and egg processing facilities to determine the extent to which establishments are voluntarily adopting food defense plans. This is done through annual food defense plan surveys performed by FSIS in-plant inspection personnel. This will assist FSIS in determining what further measures may need to be taken in the area of food defense. The information will be provided to industry to inform them of what specific areas require more work and also where there has been success.
One way FSIS is enhancing the sharing of information and coordination of food defense activities with its international partners through participation in several initiatives:
- FSIS has signed information sharing agreements with key international trading partner countries to facilitate the mutual exchange of food defense information and conduct joint activities.
- FSIS participates in the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), a trilateral effort to increase security and enhance prosperity among the United States, Canada and Mexico through greater cooperation and information-sharing. FSIS has given presentations on the vulnerability assessment methodology at workshops for Canadian and Mexican government food regulators. FSIS also collaborates with FDA and the U.S. State Department on food defense activities with the G8 countries.
FSIS, along with USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) and the U.S. State Department, has conducted workshops on food defense for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies' Counter-terrorism Task Force. These workshops, for government and industry officials, addressed food defense awareness, how to conduct vulnerability assessments,, building a food defense infrastructure,communication strategies, and developing food defense plans. FSIS drafted a series of food defense principles which were endorsed by the APEC Leadership in September 2007. Additional workshops on this topic are on-going.
FSIS, in collaboration with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) National Targeting Center, developed "rule sets," or weighted criteria, to assist in targeting shipments of FSIS-regulated products of highest concern. These rules are put into a computerized model used as a decision support tool to help target cargo containers that may require heightened inspection. These rule sets include factors derived from the agency's legal and illegal imported products vulnerability assessments such as foods of highest concern and country of origin, as well as the country's and establishment's eligibility to export to the United States.
FSIS also provides its food defense guidance materials to foreign food processors and transporters during the agency's annual audits of countries exporting meat, poultry, and processed egg products to the United States.
Research Needs and Strategies
- DHS Chemical Security Analysis Center (CSAC)
- National Center for Food Protection and Defense
- Technical Support Working Group (TSWG)
- National Critical Infrastructure Protection Research and Development (NCIP R&D) - National Plan for Research and Development in Support of Critical Infrastructure Protection (Apr 8, 2005; PDF Only)
FSIS has identified high priority areas for research and development pertaining to food defense, such as testing methods for certain threat agents. The agency is working with DHS' Chemical Security Analysis Center (CSAC) and USDA's Agricultural Research Service on several studies pertaining to the use of certain threat agents in food. The results of these research activities influence the agency's capability to test for different threat agents, the amount of testing, and which agents to test for; and informs vulnerability assessments.
FSIS also works closely with the National Center for Food Protection and Defense (a DHS-funded Center of Excellence) on research and education initiatives to reduce the potential for intentional contamination of the food supply and to mitigate potentially catastrophic damage to public health and the economy.