Food Security Tightened with Voluntary Program

Four model food security plans and training hope to prevent potential intentional acts of contamination.

When it comes to food safety and security the "USDA will not sit back and assume that the basis is covered," says Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns.

The statement was made during a news conference Thursday that announced the availability of four model food security plans and training that meat, poultry and egg processing plants can voluntarily utilize to strengthen security measures and prevent potential acts of intentional contamination.

"Food security is a shared responsibility of USDA and our many partners to prevent or respond to the contamination of food products and we continue to make these efforts a priority," said Johanns. "By applying the principles contained in these plans, federal and state inspected plants can increase their own preparedness planning while doing their part to protect America's food supply."

Based on a vulnerable assessment, the security plans provide technical and operational resources to help plant operators identify preventative steps to minimize the risk of food product tampering or other criminal actions.

The model food security plans are being issued in the form of guidance documents and are voluntary. However, USDA strongly encourages all establishments operating under federal and state inspection programs to develop plans to fit their particular needs, as each plant may be vulnerable.

The model plans are available on the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Web site at:

www.fsis.usda.gov. The model plans are also intended to be used with other FSIS food security resources, such as food security guidelines and food security checklists that were developed over the past three years.

To assist the industry, especially small and very small establishments in developing food security plans, FSIS will conduct a series of training workshops throughout the nation in May, June and July 2005. Information on specific meeting locations and agendas will be posted on FSIS' web site,
www.fsis.usda.gov, for each workshop.
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