August 28, 2019
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reminding industry of strategies to prevent tampering and intentional adulteration of foods and cosmetics in response to a few recent media reports of tampering of products in retail grocery stores.
The FDA has published guidance and tools for industry to help prevent tampering of food including the Guidance for Industry: Food Security Preventive Measures Guidance for Retail Food Stores and Food Service Establishments and is providing information to industry to help prevent tampering of food and cosmetic products in the bullets below. The FDA recommends that food retailers review the guidance in each section that relates to a component of their operation and assess which preventive measures are suitable. The FDA also issued under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act a Final Rule entitled Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food Against Intentional Adulteration, that is directed to food processing facilities, but may also be informative to retail establishments.
The bullets below highlight steps industry can take to prevent tampering and destruction of food and cosmetic products:
- Inspect incoming products and product returns for signs of tampering, contamination, or damage.
- Develop a system for receiving, storing, and handling distressed, damaged, and returned products, and products left at checkout counters, that minimizes their potential for being compromised.
- Inspect products displayed for retail sale for evidence of tampering. Look for off-condition appearance (i.e. stained, leaking, damaged packaging, missing or mismatched labels, evidence of resealing, proper stock rotation, etc.).
- Monitor public areas for unusual or suspicious activity using security guards, monitored video cameras, one-way and two-way windows, place employee workstations for optimum visibility.
Additional steps that can prevent tampered products from reaching consumers include incorporating food defense awareness into employee training, providing periodic reminders of security procedures to staff, and encouraging staff awareness and participation in preventing tampering. The agency’s Employees FIRST training is available to support stakeholder awareness training. Also, the See Something Say Something campaign has information regarding indicators of suspicious activities and recommended protective measures for Food Service and Retail Food Establishments.
Consumers who have recently purchased items that they suspect have been tampered with should not use the product and should return it to the retail outlet.