Food Defense Risk Assessment (TACCP & VACCP)

What is Food defense?

Procedure adopted to secure of Food from contamination or supply chain disruption.

  • Malicious activity
  • Motivated attack

Food Defense is the efforts to prevent intentional contamination of food products by biological, chemical, physical, or radiological agents

  • Control/minimise the likelihood of intentional food contamination and thus, reduce facility vulnerability.
  • Reduce the impact of an attack.
  • Reassure consumers and the public that appropriate measures are in place to protect food.
  • Brand protection.

Every firm involved in the production, transport, storage, or distribution of food to the public shall defend against intentional contamination. It is crucial for each of these firms to establish plans for prevention of intentional contamination of the food supply. Food fraud done by intentionally committed people and food is deliberately placed on the market for financial gain, with the intention of deceiving the consumer. Three Generic threats are following

  • Contamination with toxic material.
  • Sabotage of the supply chain.
  • Misuse for terrorist or criminal activity. Threats could be carried out by individuals or groups with no connection to the organization, no contractual relationships or by alienated or disaffected staff.

Why Food Defense is Important?

The food and agriculture sector is a critical infrastructure.
Which is have impact on

  • Security
  • national economic security,
  • national public health safety,
  • any combination of those matters.
  • An act of intentional contamination of food can impact the world food supply due to the globalization of the food system.
  • As the volume of food from various countries increases, so does the opportunity for wider areas to be affected by an act of intentional contamination
  • Intentional contamination is more difficult to trace with imported foods, therefore private industry plays a significant role in food defense.
  • An act of intentional contamination can have economic consequences to the country from which food originated
  • Reduced consumer confidence in foods from a certain country

How to defend your firm?

Each food industry firm should evaluate their procedures and establish a Food Defense Plan to prepare for and prevent an intentional contamination event at their facility. A Food Defense Plan is a written plan used to record practices implemented to control/ minimize the potential for an intentional contamination event and thereby reduce the overall vulnerability of the food facility.

There are three basic elements of food defense

  • Prevention
  • Response
  • Recovery

Small firms may feel frustrated with food defense risk assessment and the steps in developing and implementing a Food Defense Plan. Some firms may have limited financial resources and not have the staffing for a Food Defense Team. However, all firms no matter how small or large can be affected by an intentional contamination act and because of the lower revenue of a small firm, the small firm may have more difficulty recovering from an intentional contamination event.

What are Vulnerabilities?

Vulnerability is a weakness in the design or operation of a facility that can be exploited to intentionally contaminate a food. Understanding the types of processes that may be vulnerable will aid you in conducting a vulnerability assessment to identify and prioritize the critical process steps in a facility.

There are various types of activities used in food processing and some food processes are inherently more susceptible to intentional contamination. Certain process steps may allow for greater accessibility or uniform distribution of a contaminant throughout a product batch. As the individual steps of a facility's food processes are assessed for accessibility and vulnerability, those determined with the highest overall vulnerability to intentional contamination may be considered "critical" process steps in food defense planning.

Some types of process steps lend themselves to be more susceptible to intentional contamination. The accessibility and vulnerability of the food system have been identified as important components in food defense planning. By assessing the accessibility and vulnerability of each food process, the overall vulnerability for each process step can be determined.

  • Accessibility
    is the measure of the ease with which an attacker can physically access the intended target to intentionally contaminate the food.
  • Vulnerability
    is the measure of the ease with which a contaminant can be introduced in sufficient quantities to achieve the attacker's purpose, once the target has been accessed.

Importance of Vulnerability Assessments

A vulnerability assessment identifies and ranks the vulnerabilities of process steps in a food facility for intentional contamination. Identifying and addressing vulnerabilities in the process steps can protect the food product and ultimately your firm. Vulnerability assessments are similar to conducting a hazard analysis and identifying critical control points in food safety. This lesson identifies assessing vulnerabilities as the second step in food defense planning and presents the benefits of conducting vulnerability assessments

Vulnerability assessment of the food process steps identifies which process steps may be susceptible to an act of intentional contamination. The firm can then decide which process steps to further evaluate for focused mitigation strategies. By not identifying and addressing vulnerabilities in the process steps, your firm may be susceptible to an act of intentional contamination and its ramifications, such as illness and/or fatalities, economic losses, damage to the company brand, and possibly bankruptcy.

Assessing Vulnerabilities

Vulnerability assessment procedures may differ from facility to facility, as each business is unique. However, when conducting any vulnerability assessment it is important to understand the basics of the process. If many similar foods products are being produced, it may be sufficient to assess one or two representative products and therefore, would not need to assess all products.

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