News & Events
Food Counterterrorism Activities
Robert E. Brackett, Ph.D.
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
July 20, 2005
Good morning, Chairman Chambliss and Members of the Committee. I am Robert E. Brackett, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA or the Agency), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS or the Department). I am pleased to be here today with my colleagues from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). FDA appreciates the opportunity to discuss our food counterterrorism activities.
A great deal has been done in the past few years to enhance the safety of the food supply. FDA has worked with food safety agencies, as well as with law enforcement and intelligence-gathering agencies, and with industry to significantly strengthen the nation’s food safety system across the entire distribution chain, from farm to table, to better protect our food supply against deliberate and accidental threats. This cooperation has resulted in greater awareness of vulnerabilities, the creation of more effective prevention programs, new surveillance systems, and faster foodborne illness outbreak response capabilities.
Food safety and food defense continue to be top priorities for this Administration. A terrorist attack on the food supply could have both severe public health and economic consequences, while damaging the public’s confidence in the food we eat. The changes in food safety and defense that we have been implementing in the last few years are the most fundamental enhancements in our food safety and defense activities in many years.
In my testimony today, I will first briefly describe FDA’s overall role in counterterrorism activities. Then, I will discuss our collaborative activities with our food safety and defense partners. Finally, I will describe some of FDA’s counterterrorism activities to enhance protection of the food supply.
FDA’S ROLE IN COUNTERTERRORISM ACTIVITIES
FDA is the Federal agency that regulates everything we eat except for meat, poultry, and processed egg products, which are regulated by our partners at USDA. FDA’s responsibility extends to live food animals and animal feed. FDA also is responsible for ensuring that human drugs, human biological products, medical devices, and radiological products as well as veterinary drugs are safe and effective and that cosmetics are safe. In addition, FDA is responsible for ensuring that the health consequences of foods and medicines are accurately and honestly represented to the public, so that they can be used as effectively as possible to protect and improve the public health.
FDA’s primary mission is to protect the public health. Ensuring that FDA-regulated products are safe and secure is a vital part of that mission. While performing our mission, we play a central and a leadership role in the nation’s defense against terrorism. First, terrorists could use an FDA-regulated product, such as food, as a vehicle to introduce biological, chemical, or radiological agents into the U.S. stream of commerce, including the food supply. Second, FDA-regulated products, such as human drugs, vaccines, tissues, blood, blood products, and medical devices, as well as veterinary drugs, will play a central role in preventing or responding to human and/or animal health concerns created by an act of terrorism. It is FDA’s goal, working closely within HHS and with other Federal agencies, state and local governments, industry, and the public, to reduce the likelihood that an FDA-regulated product could be used to poison or otherwise terrorize Americans. We also help ensure that the nation’s public health system is prepared to deter a potential threat and is ready to respond to an act of terrorism.
By way of background, while FDA has the lead responsibility within HHS for ensuring the safety of food products, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in HHS has an important complementary public health role. As the lead Federal agency for conducting disease surveillance, CDC monitors the occurrence of illness in the U.S. attributable to the entire food supply. The disease surveillance systems coordinated by CDC provide an essential early-information network to detect dangers in the food supply and to reduce foodborne illness. In addition, these systems can be used to indicate new or changing patterns of foodborne illness. Because CDC also detects and investigates outbreaks of foodborne illness through its networks, CDC is able to alert FDA and USDA about implicated food products associated with foodborne illness and works closely with the agencies to take protective public health action. In keeping with its agency mission, CDC also identifies, evaluates, and provides expert scientific opinion on the effectiveness of foodborne disease prevention strategies.
COLLABORATION WITH FOOD SAFETY AND FOOD DEFENSE PARTNERS
In our food safety and defense efforts, FDA has many partners – Federal, state and local agencies, academia, and industry. We are working closely with our Federal partners such as USDA, DHS, the Homeland Security Council at the White House, the Department of State, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the FBI to have the best information possible and to be prepared to act as needed. I also want to emphasize our close working relationships with our sister public health agency, CDC, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in DHS, and USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), our counterpart agency responsible for meat, poultry, and processed egg products. Some of our other Federal partners include USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, Department of the Army Veterinary Services Activity, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
FDA’s activities in public health defense are coordinated through the HHS Secretary’s Operations Center. This relationship facilitates communication between all HHS Operating Divisions, the Department, and other Federal agencies and departments, including DHS. FDA also has worked closely with the Interagency Food Working Group of the White House Homeland Security Council on three initiatives – development of a national network of food laboratories, identification of vulnerabilities and subsequent mitigation's for commodities of concern, and the development of a national incident management system.
In addition, FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI) maintains professional relationships with domestic and foreign law enforcement agencies to receive and act on any information regarding the intentional contamination of FDA-regulated products. OCI has a specialized staff with the clearances, capabilities, and backgrounds to analyze information from law enforcement and intelligence community agencies and to assist those agencies in conducting terrorism-related threat assessments involving FDA-regulated products. OCI serves as FDA’s liaison with the intelligence community (CIA, FBI, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Counter-Terrorism Center, and others). In this liaison capacity, OCI maintains relationships and provides expert assistance on scientific, technical, or criminal issues to specialized units within those agencies. OCI field agents serve on selected Joint Terrorism Task Forces around the country and on other multi-agency counterterrorism task forces. OCI agents actively participate in daily briefings at the FBI-led National Joint Terrorism Task Force and at the Department of Homeland Security Information Analysis Infrastructure Protection. FDA also has an OCI agent assigned on a full-time basis to Interpol’s office in Washington, D.C. OCI’s coordination of the agency’s criminal investigative matters, including those that relate to potential acts of terrorism, help to prevent, deter, detect, and interdict a terrorist attack on FDA-regulated products.
FDA is working closely with DHS and other Federal agencies to implement the President’s Homeland Security Presidential Directives (HSPDs). The Secretary of DHS is responsible for coordinating the overall national effort to enhance the protection of the critical infrastructure and key resources of the nation, including food and agriculture defense. The President has issued HSPD-7,-8, and–9, which identify critical infrastructures, improve response planning, and establish a national policy to defend the agriculture and food systems against terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies.
The HHS and USDA Secretaries or their designees exercise key responsibilities as sector-specific agencies. DHS serves as the coordinator of the Food and Agriculture Sector within the Government Coordination Council (GCC). The GCC provides effective coordination of agriculture and food security strategies and activities, policy, and communication across government and between the government and the sector. In addition, the Council also plays a coordination role with the public health and clinical issues resulting from a terrorist act involving the food supply.
Within the GCC, HHS and USDA serve as co-leads for the food sector, and USDA serves as the lead for the agriculture sector. The Food and Agriculture Sector is a public-private partnership that combines expertise from several Federal agencies (FDA, USDA, EPA, Department of Defense [DoD], Department of Commerce, Department of the Interior, and the Department of Justice) as well as that of state and local officials (representing agriculture, public health, and veterinary services), and the private sector (more than 100 trade associations and individual firms participate). As part of the HSPD-7 National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) development, FDA and USDA have drafted sector-specific plans, which will be finalized after obtaining additional input from states and the private sector. Using these plans as components, DHS has formulated the Interim NIPP for all sectors. The Interim NIPP is now being reviewed by sector members who are obtaining input from industry and state and local government participants. With the close working relationship of FDA and USDA and the other government and industry collaborators, the Food and Agriculture Sector activities to protect critical infrastructure have set the organizational and operational standard for other critical infrastructure sectors. DHS has applauded the Food and Agriculture Sector’s organizational structure, consensus building, and the steps it has taken to improve food defense.
FDA also is working closely with our state partners to enhance food defense. For example, during the fall of 2004, FDA issued the Food Security Surveillance Assignment to FDA field personnel and participating state authorities to conduct food defense-related inspections, reconciliation examinations, and collections and analyses of samples of food products that have an elevated risk for intentional contamination. The purpose of this assignment was to deter intentional contamination of food through heightened and targeted preventive activities and to identify and address any gaps in the system for responding to a period of increased food security risk. This assignment enhanced both FDA’s and our state counterparts’ preparedness for a future threat involving an FDA-regulated product.
Now, I would like to describe some of FDA’s other counterterrorism activities.
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2005, FDA has the challenge of reviewing and/or inspecting more than 9 million imported food entries. In recent years, we have expanded FDA’s presence at ports of entry, increased surveillance of imported foods, increased domestic inspections, and enhanced our laboratory analysis capacity. To manage the ever-increasing volume of imported food shipments, we are working to utilize more risk-management strategies in the review of foods that are being imported or offered for import into the United States. Currently, working with information submitted primarily to CBP, FDA screens shipments electronically to determine if the shipment meets identified criteria for physical examination or sampling and analysis or warrants other review by FDA personnel. This electronic screening allows FDA to concentrate its limited physical inspection resources on what appear to be higher-risk shipments while allowing lower-risk shipments to proceed into commerce after the electronic screening.
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SECURITY AND BIOTERRORISM PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE ACT OF 2002 (BIOTERRORISM ACT)
Subtitle A of Title III of the Bioterrorism Act provided the Secretary of Health and Human Services with new authorities to protect the nation’s food supply against the threat of intentional contamination and other food-related emergencies. This legislation represents the most fundamental enhancement to our food safety authorities in many years. These additional authorities improve our ability to act quickly in responding to a threatened or actual terrorist attack, as well as other food-related emergencies. Since this legislation was signed into law three years ago, FDA has been working hard to implement this law effectively and efficiently. Throughout this process, FDA has enjoyed close cooperation from our colleagues at CBP. I would now like to describe FDA’s actions to implement several of the provisions in the Bioterrorism Act.
Registration of Food Facilities
Section 305 of the Bioterrorism Act requires registration of foreign and domestic food facilities that manufacture, process, pack, or hold food for consumption by humans or animals in the U.S. Thanks to this provision, FDA has, for the first time, a roster of foreign and domestic food facilities that provide food for American consumers. In the event of a potential or actual terrorist incident or an outbreak of foodborne illness, the registration information will help FDA to quickly identify, locate, and notify the facilities that may be affected.
On October 10, 2003, FDA and CBP jointly published an interim final regulation to implement the registration requirement, which became effective on December 12, 2003. We currently are working to finalize the rule and hope to publish it soon.To date, 261,391 facilities have registered. This includes 114,462 domestic and 146,929foreign facilities.
Prior Notice of Imported Food Shipments
Section 307 of the Bioterrorism Act requires the submission to FDA of prior notice of food, including animal feed, that is imported or offered for import into the U.S. This advance information enables FDA, working closely with CBP, to more effectively target inspections at the border to ensure the safety of imported foods before they move into the U.S. On October 10, 2003, FDA and CBP jointly published an interim final rule to implement this provision. The interim final rule provided stakeholders an additional opportunity to comment on all provisions of the interim final rule while the rule took effect on December 12, 2003, as required by the Bioterrorism Act. We currently are drafting the final rule that responds to the timely comments we received and intend to publish the final rule as expeditiously as possible. Since December 2003, we have been receiving approximately 180,000 notifications each week about articles of food being imported or offered for import into the U.S.
With the prior notice requirement, specific information mandated by the Bioterrorism Act must be submitted to FDA before the imported food arrives in the U.S. This not only allows FDA’s and CBP’s electronic screening systems to review and screen the shipments for potential serious threats to health (intentional or otherwise) before food arrives in the U.S., but it also allows FDA staff to review prior notice submissions for those products flagged by the systems as presenting the most significant risk and determine whether the shipment should be held for further investigation. FDA worked very closely with CBP in developing this screening system.
In addition, FDA has been actively working with the analysts at CBP’s National Targeting Center to utilize their Automated Targeting System as a supplementary tool to enhance the Agency’s ability to focus attention on those imported foods that may pose a serious threat to public health. Products identified as “high risk” through FDA’s screening criteria are targeted and undergo a manual, comprehensive “import security review” that includes a review of CBP databases that flag sensitive criminal and terrorist-related information. FDA uses defined risk factors to select candidates for import security reviews, based on intelligence reports and information about the shipper and/or consignee that indicate a potential risk to the U.S. consumer and the domestic market. Prior Notice import security reviews complement the traditional import field examinations. In FY 2004, FDA conducted intensive prior notice import security reviews on 33,111 imported food shipments.
Section 303 of the Bioterrorism Act gives FDA authority to administratively detain any article of food for which the Agency has credible evidence or information that the food presents a threat of serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals. This authority was self-executing and provides an added measure to ensure the safety of the nation’s food supply. Section 303 also requires FDA to provide by regulation procedures for instituting on an expedited basis certain enforcement actions against perishable foods subject to a detention order. On June 4, 2004, FDA published a final rule to implement this section. The rule also includes procedures for detaining an article of food, expedited procedures for detaining perishable foods, and the process for appealing a detention order.
Maintenance and Inspection of Records for Foods
Section 306 of the Bioterrorism Act authorizes FDA to have access to certain records when the Agency has a reasonable belief that an article of food is adulterated and presents a threat of serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals. It authorizes the Secretary to publish regulations to establish requirements regarding the establishment and maintenance, for not longer than two years, of records by persons (excluding farms and restaurants) who manufacture, process, pack, transport, distribute, receive, hold, or import food. On December 9, 2004, FDA published a final rule to implement this section. The recordkeeping regulation enhances FDA’s ability to track and contain foods that pose a threat of serious adverse health consequences or death to American consumers from accidental or deliberate contamination of food. Affected persons must be in compliance with the regulation between December 2005 and December 2006, based on the size of the business, with small businesses having more time to comply to enable them to learn from the experiences of their larger counterparts.
Authority to Commission Other Federal Officials to Conduct Inspections
Section 314 of the Bioterrorism Act authorizes the Secretary to commission other Federal officers and employees to conduct examinations and investigations. Pursuant to this new authority, FDA and CBP have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to commission CBP officers to conduct examinations and investigations pursuant to information obtained through the prior notice requirements. These examinations and investigations may be carried out on FDA’s behalf at ports where FDA may not currently have staff or to augment FDA staff at ports that do have an FDA presence. This unprecedented FDA-CBP collaboration significantly strengthens our ability to secure the border while ensuring the movement of legitimate trade. In accordance with this authority, FDA has already commissioned over 8,150 CBP officers. The Agency will continue to explore use of this authority with other agencies with whom we share jurisdiction over a facility as a tool to further improve efficiencies.
INDUSTRY GUIDANCE AND PREVENTIVE MEASURES
FDA has issued guidance on the security measures the food industry may take to minimize the risk that food will be subject to tampering or other malicious, criminal, or terrorist actions. We have issued such guidance, “Security Preventive Measures Guidance Documents,” for food producers, processors, and transporters, for importers and filers, for retail food stores and food service establishments, and for cosmetic processors and transporters. In addition, we have issued specific security guidance for the milk industry. During domestic inspections and import examinations, FDA’s field personnel, as well as our state counterparts, continue to hand out and discuss these guidance documents to firms that have not previously received it.
To help reduce the risk of an attack on the food supply, FDA and our partners at USDA have joined forces to provide a food security awareness training program entitled, “Protecting the Food Supply from Intentional Adulteration: An Introductory Training Session to Raise Awareness.” The training is directed at individuals who play an important role in defending our nation’s food from attack: Federal, state, local, and tribal food-industry regulators; school food authorities; and nutrition assistance program operators and administrators. Representatives from the food industry and individuals essential in responding to a food emergency due to an intentional attack - such as law enforcement, public health, and homeland security officials - also are encouraged to participate in the training program. The program is available to any interested individuals free of charge.
VULNERABILITY AND THREAT ASSESSMENTS
As part of our efforts to anticipate threats to the food supply, we have conducted extensive scientific vulnerability assessments of different categories of food, determining the most serious risks of intentional contamination with different biological or chemical agents during various stages of food production and distribution. FDA’s initial assessment utilized an analytical framework called Operational Risk Management (ORM) that considers both the severity of the public health impact and the likelihood of such an event taking place. FDA has incorporated threat information received from the intelligence community.
To validate our findings, FDA contracted with the Institute of Food Technologists to conduct an in-depth review of ORM and provide a critique of its application to food security. This review validated FDA’s vulnerability assessment and provided additional information on the public health consequences of a range of scenarios involving various products, agents, and processes.
FDA also contracted with Battelle Memorial Institute to conduct a “Food and Cosmetics, Chemical, Biological, and Radiological Threat Assessment.” The assessment also affirmed the findings of FDA’s ORM assessment. In addition, it provided another decision-making tool for performing risk assessments. Further, the Battelle assessment made a number of recommendations that addressed research needs, the need for enhanced laboratory capability and capacity, and the need for enhanced partnerships between Federal, state, and local governments to ensure food security. FDA is addressing each of these recommendations.
FDA is continuing to update and refine these assessments regarding the vulnerability of FDA-regulated foods to intentional contamination from biological and chemical agents. These refinements, using a method called CARVER+Shock, use processes adapted from techniques developed by DoD for use in assessing the vulnerabilities of military targets to asymmetric threats. Results of these updated assessments will be used to develop technology interventions and countermeasures, identify research needs, and provide guidance to the private sector.
For example, in 2003, FDA began using the CARVER+Shock analytical tool to perform vulnerability assessments to identify what an individual or group, intent on doing damage to the food and agriculture sector, could potentially do based on their capability, intent, and past history. The CARVER+Shock methodology was modified under Homeland Security Council leadership for use in the food and agriculture sector by FDA, USDA, and DoD with coordination by DHS, CIA, and FBI. FDA’s approach has been to seek voluntary, mutually-beneficial partnerships with various segments of the food industry. We have completed such cooperative assessments with four segments of the regulated industry that involve bottled water, fluid dairy products, juice products, and infant formula. FDA is in the process of collaborating and providing technical assistance in assessments to a number of other food product industries using this tool. FDA also has collaborated with USDA to provide assistance to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service on the use of this analytical tool on specific commodities in the school lunch program.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE
FDA has established an Office of Crisis Management to coordinate the preparedness and emergency response activities within FDA and with our Federal, state, and local counterparts. Over the past few years, FDA has participated in and conducted multiple emergency response activities including exercises coordinated with other Federal and state agencies. For example, FDA and USDA’s FSIS have focused on strengthening our working relationships through joint testing of several response plans in an exercise environment. FDA has participated in numerous exercises, including those sponsored by USDA/APHIS, that focus on the occurrence of natural or intentional outbreaks in animals. We have conducted exercises to test our emergency response with respect to contamination of the food supply and animal feed. FDA also has reviewed food defense and rapid response and recovery procedures with industry groups and trade associations.
To enhance FDA’s ability to manage, plan for, and respond to food emergencies, FDA has implemented the Emergency Operations Network Incident Management System (EON IMS), an electronic system for managing emergencies. It has three components: incident tracking and contact management, a collaboration and knowledge management tool for meetings and document management, and a Geographic Information System for mapping and impact assessment. The EON IMS is important in all emergencies and exercises requiring efficient receipt and dissemination of large volumes of information to our stakeholders, including the public and other Federal and state agencies. Once completed, this system will provide a web-based connection for all FDA offices and our partners, through which accurate real-time information about various incidents can be shared and discussed. It will be a component of a safety net that enhances our ability to prepare for a terrorist attack and respond should an attack occur. The development of this system conforms to HSPD-5, “Management of Domestic Incidents.” The President’s FY 2006 budget requests an additional $1.5 million to support this system.
An additional step in enhancing our response capability is to improve our laboratory capacity. A critical component of controlling threats from deliberate food-borne contamination is the ability to rapidly test large numbers of samples of potentially contaminated foods for a broad array of biological, chemical, and radiological agents. To increase surge capacity, FDA has worked in close collaboration with USDA’s FSIS to establish the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) to include a substantial number of laboratories capable of analyzing foods for agents of concern. We are seeking to expand our capacity through agreements with other Federal and state laboratories. The President’s FY 2006 budget requests an increase of $20 million to support this network. As of June 2005, there are 114 laboratories representing 48 states and Puerto Rico which have expressed interest in participating in FERN, including eight Federal agencies, thus providing a framework to build upon. Participation continues to grow. Once completed, FERN will encompass a nationwide network of Federal, state, and local laboratories capable of testing the safety of thousands of food samples, thereby enhancing the nation’s ability to swiftly respond to a terrorist attack.
We also are expanding Federal, state, and local involvement in our eLEXNET system by increasing the number of laboratories around the country that participate in this electronic data system. eLEXNET is a seamless, integrated, web-based data exchange system for food testing information that allows multiple agencies engaged in food safety activities to compare, communicate, and coordinate findings of laboratory analyses. It enables health officials to assess risks and analyze trends, and it provides the necessary infrastructure for an early-warning system that identifies potentially hazardous foods. At present, there are 113 laboratories representing 50 states and the District of Columbia that are part of the eLEXNET system. We are continuing to increase the number of participating laboratories. Moreover, the governments of Canada, Mexico, and the United States agreed to establish a pilot to use eLEXNET to share food sample data among the three countries’ laboratories. FDA has been working with Mexico and Canada to establish a secure network to facilitate the sharing of food-testing data between U.S., Mexican, and Canadian laboratories.
FDA also is collaborating with CDC, USDA, DHS, EPA and many other Federal agencies to create a Memorandum of Agreement for an Integrated Consortium of Laboratory Networks (ICLN). The ICLN will be an integrated system of laboratory networks, such as FERN, to provide for early detection and effective consequence management of acts of terrorism and other events involving a variety of agents and more than one section or segment of the nation (i.e., humans, animals, plants, food, the environment).
In addition, FDA collaborated with the U.S. Department of the Army to design and develop two mobile laboratories to be deployed at borders, ports, or other locations, to enhance our ability to provide timely and efficient analyses of imported food. The construction of these mobile laboratories has been completed, and they are capable of being deployed.
To prioritize research needs and avoid duplication, FDA coordinates with its sister agencies within HHS, such as CDC, and with other Federal partners such as USDA, DHS, DoD, and the Department of Energy. Within FDA, we have embarked on an ambitious research agenda throughout the Agency to address potential terrorist threats. To enhance food defense, FDA has significantly redirected existing research staff to ensure that appropriate resources are focused on priority food safety and defense issues. For example, research sponsored by FDA’s CFSAN is aimed at developing the tools essential for testing a broad array of food products for a multiple number of biological and chemical agents. We are actively working with our partners in government, industry, and academia to develop such methods. FDA’s work with AOAC International, an association of analytical chemists, on validating analytical methods for the detection of biological, chemical, and radiological agents in foods is considered the “gold standard” against which other validations programs are judged. Likewise, FDA’s research on microbial genomics and analytical chemistry is widely recognized for its importance to other Federal agencies charged with forensic investigations of terrorism events.
Section 302(d) of the Bioterrorism Act directs FDA to provide for research on tests and sampling methodologies designed to test food to detect adulteration rapidly, particularly methodologies that detect intentional adulteration and tests that are suitable for inspections of food at ports of entry to the United States. This section also requires the Agency to report annually to Congress on its progress. FDA has submitted its second annual report to Congress. It can be found on FDA’s Bioterrorism Act web page.
FDA began redirecting its research program to address food defense concerns soon after the events of September 11, 2001. The report mentioned above describes more than 100 intramural and extramural research projects to develop tests and sampling methodologies for the detection of adulterated food. The Agency’s research agenda is particularly focused on methods to detect high-priority biological agents (e.g., Clostridium botulinum neurotoxins) as well as chemical (e.g., ricin), and radiological threat agents that pose the greatest threats to the public and is focused on foods believed to be the most vulnerable or attractive to terrorists. Our researchers also are exploring food-testing protocols using the latest technologies, such as the optical affinity biosensor technology and the quadruple time of flight mass spectrometer, to improve timeliness and accuracy over existing techniques. Researchers are also gleaning information on test methods by using them in studies focused on interventions or shields for the food supply, studies focused on characterizing the behavior (growth, survival, stability) of agents in various food categories, and studies focused on decontaminating food processing facilities.
Among the Agency’s research accomplishments are the development, adaptation, or validation of rapid and field-deployable methods to detect various agents in food and the establishment of testing protocols. FDA has shared these new data and technologies with Federal, state, and local entities to equip them to perform food safety testing.
In conclusion, FDA is making tremendous progress in its ability to ensure the safety of the food supply. Due to the enhancements being made by FDA and other agencies and due to the close coordination between the Federal food safety, public health, law enforcement, and intelligence-gathering agencies, the United States’ food safety and defense system is stronger than ever before. Although we are better prepared than ever before, we are continuously working to improve our ability to prevent, detect, and respond to terrorist threats.
Thank you for this opportunity to discuss FDA’s counterterrorism activities to protect the food supply. I would be pleased to respond to any questions.