Draft Guidance for Industry: Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food Against Intentional Adulteration


How to Comment

Submit either electronic or written comments on the draft guidance by July 5, 2019 to ensure that the Agency considers your comment on this draft guidance before it begins work on the final version of the guidance.  

Submit electronic comments to in docket folder FDA-2018-D-1398.

Submit written comments to
Dockets Management Staff (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061
Rockville, MD 20852
All comments should be identified with the docket number FDA-2018-D-1398.

See additional information on commenting: Stakeholders Will Be Able to Comment on First Two Volumes of the Intentional Adulteration Rule Draft Guidance Together

March 2019

Contains Nonbinding Recommendations

Draft-Not for Implementation

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) added to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) several new sections that reference intentional adulteration.  For example, section 418 of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 350g) addresses intentional adulteration in the context of facilities that manufacture, process, pack, or hold food, and that are required to register under section 415 (21 U.S.C. 350d).  Section 420 of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 350i) addresses intentional adulteration in the context of high-risk foods and exempts farms except for farms that produce milk [2].

We implemented these intentional adulteration provisions through a rule entitled “Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food Against Intentional Adulteration” (IA rule).We published the final rule in the Federal Register of May 27, 2016.  (81 FR 34166). 

The rule, which includes the requirements for food defense measures against intentional adulteration, and related requirements, can be found in 21 CFR part 121, as shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Subparts Established in 21 CFR Part 121

 Subpart Title
 A General Provisions
 B Reserved
 C Food Defense Measures
 D Requirements Applying to Records That Must Be Established and Maintained
 E Compliance

As shown in Table 2 below, the amount of time we are allowing you to comply with the IA rule depends on your particular business.

Table 2. Compliance Dates for IA Rule Based on Size of Business

 Size of Business Compliance Date
 Very Small July 26, 2021
 Small July 27, 2020
 Other businesses that do not qualify for exemptions July 26, 2019

The IA rule applies to the owner, operator, or agent in charge of a domestic or foreign food facility that manufactures/processes, packs, or holds food for consumption in the United States and is required to register under section 415 of the FD&C Act, unless one of the exemptions provided in 21 CFR 121.5 applies.  (21 CFR 121.1).

Acts of intentional adulteration may take several forms: acts intended to cause wide scale public health harm, such as acts of terrorism focused on the food supply; acts of disgruntled employees, consumers, or competitors; and economically motivated adulteration (EMA).  Acts intended to cause wide scale public health harm are associated with intent to cause significant human morbidity and mortality. The other forms are typically not intended to cause wide scale public health harm, although some public health harm may occur because of the adulteration.  For example, acts of disgruntled employees, consumers, and competitors are generally intended to attack the reputation of a company, and EMA is intended to obtain economic gain.  In the spectrum of risk associated with intentional adulteration of food, attacks intended to cause wide scale public health harm to humans are ranked as the highest risk.  Therefore, the IA rule is focused on addressing those acts and not acts of disgruntled employees, consumers, or competitors, or acts of EMA [3].

This document is directed to those persons who are subject to the Intentional Adulteration (IA) requirements of 21 CFR part 121 (you).  Identifying significant vulnerabilities at your facility and implementing mitigation strategies and mitigation strategy management components enables you to apply a proactive and systematic approach to your food defense program to protect your food from intentional adulteration intended to cause wide scale public health harm.

This draft guidance, when finalized, will represent the current thinking of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on this topic. It does not establish any rights for any person and is not binding on FDA or the public. You can use an alternative approach if it satisfies the requirements of the applicable statutes and regulations.

Download the Draft Guidance for Industry

[1] This guidance has been prepared by the Office of Analytics and Outreach, Food Defense and Emergency Coordination Staff, in the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

[2] The IA rule did not include any requirements for farms that produce milk. As such, farms that produce milk are not covered under this draft guidance.

[3] As we noted in the final rule, the protections required by the rule will help minimize the likelihood of success of a disgruntled employee, consumer, or competitor who attempts an act of intentional adulteration at an actionable process step—even if that act is not intended to cause wide scale public health harm. (81 FR at 34183). 

Page Last Updated: 03/06/2019
Note: If you need help accessing information in different file formats, see Instructions for Downloading Viewers and Players.
Language Assistance Available: Español | 繁體中文 | Tiếng Việt | 한국어 | Tagalog | Русский | العربية | Kreyòl Ayisyen | Français | Polski | Português | Italiano | Deutsch | 日本語 | فارسی | English