Food Defense is the means of preventing or eliminating the deliberate contamination of food by bacterial agents, toxins, chemicals, radiation, or a physical object. Prevention is the most important aspect of food defense.
Threats to food defense might occur at any level in the food-supply chain. These attacks are focused on a specific food item, process, company, or business. Attacks may be done by a variety of individuals such as: individuals posing as customers, employees/former employees, vendors, competitors, political ideologists, organized terrorist or activist groups, lone “copycat” individuals, criminals, or anyone with an agenda. The motivations for such attacks vary greatly and include, but are not limited to, financial gain, thrill/challenge, prestige, revenge, publicity, chaos, competitive advantage, or political reasons.
A lack in food defense planning may have devastating repercussions for a company. Food contamination can result in widespread illnesses or even death of the consumer(s), law proceedings, distrust in the product, company, and even the industry. The smallest incident can bankrupt an entire corporation.
There currently are no regulations in place that address food defense, the National Infrastructure Protection Center, which serves as the Federal government’s focal point for threat assessment, warning, investigation, and response for threats or attacks against United States critical infrastructures has identified the food system as one of 18 critical infrastructure sectors. Under the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, the scope of the President’s council on Food Safety is expanded to include other relevant agencies and organizations to create a food safety and defense strategy addressing technologies, threat assessments, risk communication, and procedures for securing food processing, manufacturing facilities, and modes of transportation.
In 2002, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) entered into a Public Health Preparedness and Response to Bioterrorism Cooperative Agreement U90/CCU 515024-03-3 and received bioterrorism funding from the Federal Centers for Disease Control. ISDH conducts food defense assessments for Indiana food manufacturers and distributors. The ISDH Food Protection Program has Food Defense Program Coordinators who have been developing and implementing these assessments. Assessment findings are confidential documents under IC 5-14-3-4(19) and are not public record.
The Food Defense Program Coordinators manage the Indiana Food Safety and Defense Task Force, which consists of stakeholders from the food industry, government, and academia. We are constantly working to raise awareness of food defense related issues. If you have any questions feel free to contact the ISDH Food Defense Program Coordinators.
We are willing to answer any questions or concerns and discuss food defense. We have extensive contacts with Indiana and the United States Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other local partners who are aware and vigilant of food defense issues and concerns.
Food Defense Program Coordinator