(Washington, D.C.) – The Food Security Preventive Measures Guidance developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers a useful framework for food companies both large and small in making security assessments of their own operations, according to Rhona Applebaum, Ph.D., NFPA executive vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs.
“The FDA food security preventive measures guidance is both comprehensive and flexible, allowing companies within our very complex and diverse food supply to determine how best to apply it to their own operations,” Applebaum said.
“The agency has been particularly astute in developing this pragmatic approach,” Applebaum said. “FDA has produced preventive guidance for a broad swath of critical audiences, including the state and local health agencies with frontline responsibility for food security.”
“The FDA food security preventive measures guidance helps food companies understand what they need to do—top to bottom—and leaves open to each company to determine how to go about doing it. This is important for an industry made up of both very large and very small companies that bring different sets of resources to the job,” Applebaum said. “Bottom line, if food companies apply this FDA guidance, they will increase the security of their key perimeters and get the job done.”
“The FDA guidance will strenthen barriers against potential threats to the security of the U.S. food supply,” Applebaum said.
FDA Guidance Parallels Work of the Alliance for Food Security
Within days of the September 11 attack, NFPA formed the Alliance for Food Security, an informal public-private partnership providing a forum for information exchange and coordination of preparedness activities among more than 95 agricultural, food industry and government organizations. Participants include trade associations representing the food chain from commodity production through processing, packaging, distribution and retail sale, as well as government agencies responsible for food and water safety, public health and law enforcement.
In addition, NFPA developed a Food Security Checklist for use by food processors and suppliers to make a thorough security assessment of their operations. The checklist is organized as a series of questions and is appropriate for use by companies both large and small to think through all stages in the production process.
The information and resources presented at weekly Alliance briefings are then shared by participating associations with their own membership audiences through email alerts, websites and workshops.
“Not all food companies participate in trade associations and therefore do not have the benefit of services provided by the members of the Alliance for Food Security. The FDA food security guidance especially compensates for those companies not reached by even this extensive information network,” Applebaum said.