The Significant Incident Preparedness and Response Staff (SIPRS) is responsible for the coordination of the emergency management functions for FSIS. Emergency Management is the organization and management of the resources and responsibilities for dealing with all aspects of emergencies – preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery. FSIS Directive 5500.2, Significant Incident Response, outlines how the agency will respond to significant food incidents and emergencies, both intentional and unintentional. The principles are consistent with the National Incident Management System/Incident Command System (NIMS/ICS) LINK structure.
The FSIS Emergency Management Committee (EMC), which is comprised of senior members of the agency's program areas and can be convened 24/7 to respond to all emergencies (significant incidents) using Incident Command System (ICS) principles. FSIS Directive 5500.2, Significant Incident Response established the operating principles of the EMC.
FSIS also works with other government agencies and private sector organizations to ensure that they can respond quickly and effectively to an attack on the food supply, major disease outbreak, or other disaster affecting the national food infrastructure.
National Response Framework Activities
FSIS worked with other Federal agencies to develop the Food and Agriculture Incident Annex to the National Response Framework (NRF). The Annex outlines the food sector's plan to respond to emergencies. FSIS' responsibilities fall under Emergency Support Function 11 (ESF-11) (PDF Only) designated in the NRF. Based on this plan, FSIS is responsible for ensuring the safety and defense of the Nation's supply of meat, poultry, and egg products in the event of a national incident by assisting State and local authorities in their response activities.
FSIS is also collaborating with the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop the International Assistance System (IAS). The IAS is a set of policies and procedures designed for the review and receipt of offers of international assistance and resources during domestic disasters declared under the National Response Framework and pursuant to the Stafford Act.
State Emergency Management Activities
FSIS partnered with National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to create a template to assist States and local first responders in developing their own response plans that meet States' needs and are consistent with the NRP. The template is intended to facilitate cooperation and coordination among Federal and State agencies when responding to incidents involving the food supply.
FSIS also conducts exercises with State and local government agencies and industry to practice a coordinated response to an intentional adulteration incident in the food supply.
Food Emergency Response Network (FERN)
FERN is an integrated, secure laboratory system for federal, state, and local government agencies engaged in food safety and food defense activities. Currently consisting of many federal, state, and local laboratories, FERN is organized to ensure federal and state inter-agency participation and cooperation in the development and operation of the network. The system is jointly operated by the Department of Health and Human Service’s Food and Drug Administration (HHS/FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA/FSIS).
FERN plays a critical role in food safety and food defense by helping FSIS in detecting, identifying, respond to, and aid in the recovery from emergencies involving biological, chemical, or radiological contamination of food. FERN also allows for the analytical testing of large numbers of samples in various FSIS non-emergency situations; (for example Super Bowl, G7 Summit, DNC/RNC Conventions, etc.) just to name a few.
Through the FERN network FSIS has access to other Federal and State food-testing laboratories to handle any surge capacity that might be needed in responding to an intentional contamination event.
Additional information about FERN can be found in the Biennial Report to Congress on the Food Emergency Response Network.
Emergency Management Committee
The Significant Incident Preparedness and Response Staff (SIPRS) manages the FSIS Emergency Management Committee (EMC), which is comprised of senior members of the agency's program areas and can be convened 24/7 to respond to all emergencies (significant incidents) using Incident Command System (ICS) principles. FSIS Directive 5500.2, Significant Incident Response established the operating principles of the EMC.
Associated Government Emergency Resources
USDA Disaster Resource Center
Information about specific disasters and emergencies, how to prepare, recover, and help build long-term resilience, as well as information about USDA assistance during disaster events.
USDA Employee Emergency Information Center
Up-to-the-minute preparedness information for employees, particularly those in the National Capital Region.
- USDA Employee Emergency Information Center
- Office of Personnel Management
Resources for government officials, media, and the general public to quickly locate information and guidance published in the event of an emergency situation.
USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Emergency Response
In addition to protecting the health of livestock, poultry, and crops from foreign diseases and pests, APHIS also works closely with FEMA to provide assistance and coordination during all-hazards emergencies, including natural disasters.
USDA Food and Nutrition Service
Nothing is more important than providing food when people find themselves suddenly, and often critically, in need following a storm, earthquake, flood or other disaster emergency. USDA makes sure that people have enough to eat.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Be Ready for an Emergency
www.Ready.gov from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has information on how to be ready to deal with an emergency situation.
FEMA is the managing partner for this site, which provides disaster survivors with information, support, services, and a means to access and apply for disaster assistance through joint data-sharing efforts between federal, tribal, state, local, and private sector partners.
CDC Information on Emergency Preparedness and Response
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on how to protect yourself during emergency situations.
A web-based platform designed to create community between the various laboratories and federal and state regulatory agencies that make up our nation's food and agricultural sectors.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Information on Food Defense
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.
USA.gov - Disasters and Emergencies
USA.gov is your online guide to all government information and services. Learn how to prepare for and recover from disasters and emergencies.
American Red Cross
Meeting people's immediate emergency disaster caused needs. Learn more about the Red Cross.