The food industry must learn to defend their product against contamination and comply with strict, yet necessary, new food laws. At the forefront of this significant challenge is the recent Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into effect by President Barack Obama in January 2011. The act grants the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enhanced powers which include:
• More frequent inspections at FDA-registered food processing sites
• The right to inspect foreign plants that process food products imported to the United States
• More stringent documentation requirements for food companies and stronger product-recall authority
Since the September 11 attacks, government officials and business security specialists have become acutely aware that terrorists intend to harm the food supply through contamination. While it’s critical to safeguard the country against these threats, the truth is that it’s far more likely that the food supply will be contaminated, intentionally or unintentionally, by someone legitimately on the premises. This means that the need for Food Defense is evident, through education of supply chain protection and implementation of robust security systems and processes. An efficient supply chain system such as this provides transparency, precise traceability and personnel authorization regulation.
To paint a picture, there are two million farms in the United States — 150,000 domestic processing facilities registered with the FDA and another 270,000 in foreign countries. Most food products are moved by trucks, with about nine million currently used for transport in the industry. Trains move truckloads of food products on rail cars, and ocean vessels bring in imported food from all over the world. Restaurants, grocery stores and institutional food-service companies represent more than a million points of sale. The vastness of the supply chain is evident, as well as the present challenge for those aiming to safeguard it.
To protect their brand from threats along the supply chain, companies must have the capability to gather actionable intelligence.
Four strategies for a successful Food Defense plan call for officials to:
• Assess risk at critical control points
• Access, which only allows authorized staff to visit critical control points
• Alert of intentional and unintentional instances of food adulteration delivered by continuous monitoring of critical control points
• Audit, which provides invaluable documentation for compliance with FSMA requirements
The consequences of not having a defense plan include loss of potentially contaminated product and not knowing whether the product is actually stolen until it didn’t get delivered, which may be well after that code chain has been broken. These immediate penalties are miniscule compared to long-term damage for the brand – depreciation, loss of trust and an injured reputation. Therefore, the need to ensure that there is a complete chain of custody intact, from the time the product left your facility to the time it is sold at the store, is dire.
Don Hsieh, ADT Commercial Security’s Director of Commercial and Industrial Marketing, will be expanding on these strategies, and on building a proactive Food Defense program at the Food Technology and Safety Exchange show, Nov. 6-8, 2011 in Fort Lauderdale, FL. To register and get more details about the show, visit the conference website.
For more information on ADT’s Food Defense security solutions, contact Don Hsieh at email@example.com.Leave a comment