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Indiana Epidemiology Newsletter
ISDH Food Protection Program Project
Targets Food Safety and Security
Travis Goodman, BS
Food Defense Program Coordinator-South
Since September 11, 2001, we have become painfully aware that the U.S. is susceptible to intentional acts of terrorism. The enemy we now face does not directly meet us on the battlefield but chooses an asymmetrical type of warfare, which may include biological, chemical, or radiological weapons of mass destruction that are disseminated in new ways. For this reason, we must focus on raising our “index of suspicion” and think outside the box to be able to detect, diagnose, and eliminate any threats to public health as soon as possible to minimize the spread of illness and mortality.
On December 3, 2004, outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said, “I, for the life of me, cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do.” The possibility of intentional attacks on our food supply is real and must not be ignored. Since more than 80 percent of all food safety and food defense activities are performed at the State or local levels, it is clear that we are on the front lines of protecting our food and agriculture infrastructure. Consequently, we must work diligently to be prepared to: prevent an incident, protect the food and agriculture supply, effectively respond to an incident, and aid in recovery efforts after an incident.
The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) has been developing the Food Defense Project since June 2003. Two full-time Food Defense Coordinators have been coordinating this project for the ISDH. The project has primarily focused on food defense (intentional contamination of food) but has also incorporated many food safety efforts, because they are also related to a safe and secure food supply. The purpose of the Food Defense Project is to protect the Indiana food and agriculture system from terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies. This will be accomplished by focusing on the entire system, utilizing a farm-to-fork protection strategy.
The ISDH initially focused on encouraging the food industry to implement food security preventive measures outlined in the federal guidance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Now the focus also includes response and recovery. In accordance with other federal guidance outlined in Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD)-8, HSPD-9, and Department of Homeland Security Target Capability-14, ISDH efforts have been categorized into four critical areas: prevention, protection, response, and recovery. The following provides a brief summary of what the ISDH has accomplished in these four critical areas to further protect the Indiana food and agriculture system. In addition, other Indiana stakeholders, such as the Indiana Board of Animal Health, Department of Agriculture, and Purdue University, have accomplished many additional food and agriculture defense efforts.