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FDA Releases Report on Food Defense Vulnerability Assessments

Apr 10, 2013

Since September 2011, the federal government has worked closely with the private sector to enhance the country’s food defense system and prevent attempts of intentional contamination of the U.S. food supply. As part of this effort, the Food and Drug Administration conducted vulnerability assessments on the processing procedures for more than 50 food and agriculture products, working alongside IDFA and its members, among many others. Just this week, FDA released its analysis of the assessments and recommendations for mitigation strategies.  

The report, which is mandated under the Food Safety Modernization Act, reviewed the results from 25 of these assessments. It identified processing steps of highest concern and suggested strategies that would reduce the vulnerabilities. The dairy industry participated in several of the assessments over the years.

“The early assessments lasted approximately three days and consisted of a team of 20 to 30 participants from federal, state and local agricultural, food, public health, and law enforcement agencies, food and agricultural companies, and their trade associations,” said Clay Detlefsen, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs. ”They were very beneficial because government and industry better understood the realities of what can and cannot happen, bringing significant knowledge and insight.”

Strategic Partnership Program Agroterrorism

The assessments were conducted under the Strategic Partnership Program Agroterrorism, with participation from FDA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. More recent assessments are being conducted in a streamlined fashion, and they will likely continue in the near future with products and processes that have not been assessed previously.

Using the CARVER+Shock methodology, the teams noted common attributes or activities that occurred between processing steps and identified four categories of activity that should receive high priority for mitigation strategies:

  • Coating/mixing/grinding/rework,
  • Ingredient staging/prep/addition,
  • Liquid receiving/loading and
  • Liquid storage/hold/surge tanks.

By focusing on activity types, FDA will be able to disseminate public information and develop universal tools that could be used by industry for mitigation efforts. 

For more information, contact Detlefsen at

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