In calendar year 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Defense Oversight Team scope expanded to include responsibilities within the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition – including emergency coordination activities. The new title for this group is the Food Defense and Emergency Coordination Staff (FDECS), whose mission reads as follows:
“The FDECS develops and implements procedures to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from intentional contamination affecting CFSAN [Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition] regulated products. FDECS is responsible for data collection and analysis, policy development, and both domestic and international outreach efforts in food defense. FDECS coordinates and directs emergency operations for man-made and natural disasters.”
Calendar year 2013 provided many opportunities to meet, collaborate and interact with, and further improve relationships with stakeholders within the food and agriculture communities. FDECS was a key partner in the development, drafting, and publication of the proposed rule to address intentional adulteration of the food supply. The proposed rule, which is required under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and entitled “Focused Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food Against Intentional Adulteration,” was published in the Federal Register on 24 December 2013.
Below is an aggregate “summary” of food defense-related activities that the FDA has participated in or coordinated, as well as the food defense tools and resources that the FDA has developed over the past year. The cumulative estimated outreach for the year – not including phone calls and email exchanges – is approximately 10,000 stakeholders within and outside the United States.
Conferences & Meetings From January to December 2013, the staff of the FDECS:
- Organized and hosted quarterly meetings with the Food and Agriculture Sector Coordinating Councils.
- Organized and hosted monthly conference calls with the Food and Agriculture Government Coordinating Council.
- Collaborated with the India Post, the Food Safety Standards of India, and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry; the FDECS alos participated in two Food Defense Awareness Workshops in India. (May)
- Organized and hosted a six-hour workshop at the Preparedness Summit, Atlanta, Ga. (March)
- Participated in the FDA’s Manufactured Foods Regulatory Program Standards (MFRPS), St. Louis, Mo. (March)
- Organized and participated in three sessions related to food defense at the Food Safety Summit, Baltimore, Md. (April)
- Participated in a Food Defense Symposium, via webinar, in Somerset County, N.J. (May)
- Presented food defense tools and resources to the Association of Food and Drug Officials conference in Louisville, Ky. (June)
- Presented Food and Agriculture Sector Government Coordinating Council update on activities to the Association of Food and Drug Officials, in Louisville, Ky. (June)
- Participated in two Food Defense symposiums, via webinar, in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. (June)
- Presented food defense tools and resources, via webinar, to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. (June)
- Presented food defense tools and resources, via webinar, to the Georgia Rapid Response Team kick-off meeting. (June)
- Provided a Food Defense Plan Builder public stakeholder session, and follow-up question and answer session. (June)
- Organized and presented two Food Defense Awareness Workshops in Pleasanton and Fresno, Calif. (May)
- Participated in a Food Defense Awareness Workshop at the Universidad del Este in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (June)
- Presented and provided technical expertise for the FERN (Food Emergency Response Network) Training for the Detection of Bacillus anthracis and Yersinia pestis in Food in Cincinnati, Ohio. (June)
- Organized and participated in food defense updates at the National Environmental Health Association conference in Washington, D.C. (July)
- Participated in the International Association of Food Protection’s Food Defense Workshop, in Charlotte, N.C. (July)
- Participated in Innovative Food Defense Program meeting at Somerset County, N.J. (August)
- Participated, via webinar, in FDA’s Northeast Regional Food Protection Seminar in Connecticut. (August).
- Coordinated and presented, in collaboration with FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs, the 2nd Food Industry Outreach Training for Public Affairs Specialists and Small Business Representatives. (August)
- Met with industry stakeholders regarding industry needs for food defense tools and resources. (July)
- Participated in meetings with Chinese government agencies, including China Food and Drug Administration and Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China, on food defense efforts including the formation of a food defense working group and addressing economically motivated adulteration, in Beijing, China. (August)
- Presented at an Economically Motivated Adulteration conference at the U.S. embassy in Beijing, China. (August)
- Participated in a Food Defense Workshop in coordination with the German Risk Assessment Agency in Berlin, Germany. (September)
- Conducted meetings with United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency toentify points of collaboration and cooperation in food defense research areas, in London, United Kingdom. (September)
- Presented, via webinar, food defense tools and resources to the Wisconsin Environmental Health Association conference in Wisconsin. (September)
- Organized and hosted a Food Defense Symposium highlighting historical context of food and waterborne terrorism and a discussion behind an actual retail-level intentional food contamination event at CFSAN in College Park, Md. (September)
- Conducted several food defense meetings for future collaborations with the U.S. Department of Defense. (July/September)
- Organized and presented Food Defense Awareness Workshop in Denver, Colo. (October)
- Organized and presented Food Defense Awareness Workshop in Chicago, Ill. (November)
- Participated in the 2013 Presidential Inauguration Food Safety and Defense Assignment. (January)
- Participated in a joint exercise between the Food and Agriculture Sector and the Nuclear Reactor, Materials and Waste Sector in Washington, D.C. (March and October)
- Organized and hosted an agency-wide exercise designed to examine agency communication channels and the capabilities of the laboratories within the Food Emergency Response Network in College Park, Md. (August/September)
- Provided $50,000 to state and local stakeholders to perform Food Related Emergency Exercise Bundle (FREE-B) exercises, enabling them to test their food emergency response plans, protocols, and procedures.
Tools and Resources
- Updated the Mitigations Strategies Database. (December 2013)
- Released Food Defense Plan Builder tool. (1 May 2013)
- Released Food Defense 101, including ALERT. (5 June 2013)
Food Defense Programs
- Posted the final summary report for the 2012 Special Event Food Safety and Defense Assignment. (February)
- Posted the outcomes and findings of Vulnerability Assessments and providedentification of key activity types. (April)
- Provided $200,000 to successful applicants through the Innovative Food Defense Program. (IFDP) awards close in June, awarded in September)
- Led the FDA’s participation in the 2013 Presidential Inauguration Food Safety and Defense Assignment. (January)
Publication Bashura, J. P. (2013) The expanding umbrella of food defense. Food Safety Magazine, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp. 70–77. http://www.foodsafetymag-digital.com/foodsafetymag/august_september_2013#pg76
For detailed information on the efforts listed above, visit www.FDA.gov/FoodDefense. For additional information or to discuss any of these efforts, please contact FoodDefense@fda.hhs.gov.
The FDA prepared this compilation of activities for the DomPrep Journal in January 2014.
________________________ Jason Bashura is a senior food defense analyst with the FDA’s Food Defense and Emergency Coordination Staff. He has been working within the food defense arena since 2002, when he began working with the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s Food Protection Program as a food biosecurity (now food defense) environmental health sanitarian. Currently, he oversees the utilization and refinement of the Food Related Emergency Exercise Bundle (FREE-B) and continues to provide technical oversight and guidance of the Innovative Food Defense Program. Among his experiences and opportunities, he has developed countless relationships with dedicated government, industry, and academia leaders, in an attempt to connect the innumerable dots within the Food Defense arena. He has a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of Connecticut (UCONN) and an undergraduate degree in Public Health from Southern Connecticut State University.