Food Defense

As President Barack Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) into law Jan. 4, 2011, it represented the first major overhaul of federal food laws since 1938, when Congress empowered the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to oversee the...

Next are the technology drivers. Products such as location sensors, equipment sensors, temperature sensors and vibration sensors can protect the supply chain in the physical plant and all the way through the logistics, down to the point of sale. ADT, for example, offers software with physical security information management capabilities that allow an integrated approach.

“That really enables us to take all that input — whether it’s a video or asset control throughout the enterprise — and then provide real-time intelligent monitoring for that supply chain,” Hsieh said. “There’s situational awareness across the enterprise of what’s going on so they can protect their food-supply chain.”

The third trend driver Hsieh sees is the consumer, who has high expectations of being able to have safe food whenever he/she wants it. Today’s omnipresent media output heightens the risk for food manufacturers that might have a problem.

In today’s 24/7 media environment, Hsieh observed, “there is a sensitivity now that if anything happens, it has got to be reported, and because of social networking, the consumer has just as much impact on the company brand as the CEO of that company. So there is a heightened sensitivity of the corporations to really be proactive and prevent adulteration as much as they can because they know the impact on their brand can be severe, and it can come from anywhere.”

To protect their brand from threats along the supply chain, companies must have the capability to gather actionable intelligence, Hsieh said. A successful defense plan will comprise what ADT refers to as the Four A’s:

1. Assess risk at critical control points;

2. Access, which only allows authorized staff to visit critical control points;

3. Alert of intentional and unintentional instances of food adulteration delivered by continuous monitoring of critical control points; and

4. Audit, which provides invaluable documentation for compliance with FSMA requirements.

“You need to be able to ensure that you have a complete chain of custody from the time the product left your facility to the time it is sold at the store,” Hsieh said. “There are some significant issues there for these companies. The consequences, of course, are certainly loss of product that could be contaminated and not really knowing whether the product is actually even stolen until it didn’t get delivered, which may be well after that code chain has been broken. But if you can know at the time it happens, you can act quicker and address those issues.”


Bob Giles is a regular contributor to Security Technology Executive.