; Assessment of Food Defense and Risk Mitigation Workshops for Food Producers and Processors | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Assessment of Food Defense and Risk Mitigation Workshops for Food Producers and Processors

J. Byron Williams and Elizabeth Griswold


Recent regulations by FDA and USDA-FSIS have required efforts to enhance food safety through awareness and plans to address acts of intentional contamination. To fully comply and reduce risks, producers and processors need individualized training on assessment and implementation of food defense plans. The objective of these training sessions was to educate participants on the principles/applications of food defense, biosecurity, and traceability from farm to table. Participants evaluated all areas of their businesses including personnel, ingredients, processing, transportation/distribution, and traceability and then drafted food defense plans using supplemental materials provided. Pre-and post-tests evaluated knowledge gained and follow-up surveys assessed implementation. One hundred seventeen participants from the southeast attended 8 workshops across Mississippi. Evaluations indicated most participants were ill-prepared for intentional contamination or similar threats. Roughly half of the participants did not have a food defense plan, traceability plan, biosecurity plan, security fencing, and/or surveillance cameras and/or did not utilize visitor badges, perform background checks, or back up important files for off-site storage. Tests indicated 78% of participants concluded the workshop with greater than 90% understanding of workshop materials. Individual post-test scores improved up to 42%. Six-month follow-up surveys indicated 65% of respondents had modified or implemented changes to their food defense plans or planned to make changes. Seventy-eight percent of respondents have shared the information. As a result of these workshops, these producers/processors are better prepared with food defense and traceability plans in their facilities to reduce risks to their business success and enhance the safety of our food supply.