Food Defense Vulnerability Assessment Checklist - Paster Training

Food Defense Vulnerability Assessment Checklist

We have systems of protection for bacteria and infection but what about "intentional adulteration"?

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is aimed at preventing intentional adulteration from acts intended to cause wide-scale harm to public health, including acts of terrorism targeting the food supply. Such acts, while not likely to occur, could cause illness, death, economic disruption of the food supply absent mitigation strategies.

Rather than targeting specific foods or hazards, this rule requires mitigation (risk-reducing) strategies for processes in certain registered food facilities

That’s where food defense comes in. And for proper food defense, there must be a consistent vulnerability assessment performed.

Breaking Down A Vulnerability Assessment

Depending on the ingredient or its processing there are many levels of vulnerabilities. Because of this, multiple levels of review must go on to complete a full assessment.


This is where your relationship with your vendors comes into play. Each of them must be vetted officially through an approval process before you begin buying from them.

You should know or have access to the records of testing that they do on the ingredients and how often they do it. Additionally, any other records should be open for review if every needed.

Also, what is their reputation like within the industry? Have there been past faults that you need to make note of?

Ingredient Info

Diving deeper into the product knowledge and trend can help you determine the vulnerability of each of the items.

Things like spices, for example, have a high level of vulnerability not only because of their form but also the amount of processing that goes into many of them. There are a large number of opportunities for manipulation or adulteration

Another factor is the market price. There are going to be more potential cases of adulteration on higher market items. A helpful tool to make use of is the FoodFraud database, a database of profiled ingredients.

External and/or Industry Issues

Touching on the high pricing, if there has been a sudden boost in sales on particular items there will be a heightened potential. There is a similar effect to a “drought” in the market.

Adulterated products get added to fill the gaps made by the lack of standard products.

Mitigation Procedures

Of course, understanding the concerns is only one part. It is essential to any food defense plan that there are preventative measures in place as well.

This is especially true when dealing with “key activities”. This includes things like; liquid storage and handling, bulk liquid receiving and loading, secondary ingredient handling, and mixing.

There are two types of vulnerability that a business is dealing with. One from the vendors and improper products but also from “insider attack”. The strategies have to consider both and include;

  • Key Carded Entries
  • Shipping Schedule and Log
  • Coded Departments
  • Tamper Proofing
  • Product Testing
  • Supplier Approval Programs
  • Peer Monitoring

Sometimes the adulterated items come down to simple error, which means training needs to improve so that these errors or shortcuts don’t happen. This is very common in the food industry.

Stand Tall With A Strong Food Defense Plant

While not all intentional adulteration is harmful it is always a problem to protect against. Regularly performing a proper vulnerability assessment will help keep that food defense up.

With a detailed checklist for that plan, you can be assured that your assessments will be accurate and thorough. If you are looking for more food protection and management info be sure to visit Paster Training today

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