Food Defense: Is it an issue?

By: Katie Odrobina The concept of food defense in the fresh produce industry is not new but can still be a bit daunting in application. At its most basic level food defense simply means having measures in place to reduce the likelihood of having someone intentionally contaminate the food chain. Intentional contamination can be aimed at killing or injuring people, disrupting the economy or ruining a specific company. There is not a company out there that doesn’t want to protect the public health and the economic well-being of their industry and company. With a functional food defense plan in place, the risk of releasing unsafe or adulterated products into the food supply is minimized. Potential economic loss and company liability also decreases. Self-regulation can also minimize the government’s need to pass additional regulation on the industry. Luckily most companies already have various food defense measures in place. The trick is to document the overall program. There are free resources available to help in this goal… The USDA has put together a set of pre-harvest security guidelines and checklists which are designed specifically to reduce security issues at the farm level. This document is available at: The FDA has put together a free software program that guides operations thru the development of a personalized food defense plan. This includes a broad mitigation strategies risk assessment. It is available for download at: The FDA has also put together educational tools which can be used online to educate employees. Food Defense 101 is a 4-part course which has portions tailored for owners, management and front-line employees. The focus is on awareness, prevention and regulation.
Katie Odrobina is a senior consultant with Produce Food Safety Services specializing in food safety and has extensive experience working with growers, packers and processors around the country to develop and implement food safety programs. For more information, questions or consulting services please contact Katie Odrobina directly at 706-881-0092, or visit the website at