Food Defense Plan

Immediately address threats to food production and proactively guard against intentional contamination.

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Published December 21st, 2020

What is Food Defense?

Food defense is the process of protecting food products from intentional adulteration or contamination which aims to harm consumers, business establishments, or the general public. Food defense is crucial in proactively implementing programs that help avoid food safety incidents, costly recalls, and disruptions in food production.

This article will briefly discuss:

What is a Food Defense Plan?

A food defense plan is a tool used by quality managers to help prevent the intentional contamination of food products. Food defense plans are often associated with food defense programs as a practical guide for mitigating incidents caused by intentional food contamination.

How to Develop a Food Defense Plan

Adapted from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), a food defense plan can be effective in preventing food contamination through the following steps:

  1. Planning

    Form a team that will create a food defense plan based on assessments of vulnerable critical control points in food production and handling (related: TACCP). There are also tools available (FDA’s food defense plan builder) that can help build a customized food defense plan.

  2. Implementation

    It is critical to engage the employees and get their buy-in when implementing a food defense plan. Conduct employee trainings and meet with stakeholders to implement processes that proactively promotes the safety of food products.

  3. Internal monitoring and analyzation

    Perform internal audits to catch gaps or non-conformance with the implementation of a food defense plan. Analyze food safety inspections to determine the most common non-conforming items and discover areas for improvement in food defense.

  4. Continuous improvement

    Review the food defense plan at least once a year. Based on audit reports, industry best practices, and the latest regulations on food safety, determine if the food defense plan needs to be updated or improve how it is implemented to keep up with new and changing threats to food defense.

Food Defense Plan Example

To help you get started with a proactive approach to food defense, presented below is a snapshot of a sample food defense plan:



Food Defense Solution

Outside Security

Potential tampering of incoming shipments

Careful examination of incoming raw materials (e.g. incoming inspection)

Inside Security

Suspicious packages and unexpected inventory changes

Establish SOP for reporting to appropriate personnel

Personnel Security

Lack of awareness to security measures

Periodic food defense training

Incident Response Security

Product spoilage due to equipment failure

Upgrade food defense system with preventive alerts (e.g. temperature and humidity sensors by SafetyCulture)

Food Defense System: Harnessing Smart Technology

With the goal of food defense to keep food products safe from threats of intentional contamination, it is important to ensure that its implementation is consistently monitored and documented. As a food defense system, iAuditor by SafetyCulture can help quality managers reinforce the proper implementation of food defense through streamlined and paperless monitoring and reporting. 

  • Schedule inspections and conduct internal audits using mobile-ready food safety checklists and food defense plan templates
  • Take photos and describe food safety issues using the app
  • Proactively address urgent issues found and receive updates on assigned corrective actions.
  • Save time and reduce costs by generating paperless reports on the spot
  • Use for free with small teams; unlimited reports and storage for premium accounts


Erick Brent Francisco

SafetyCulture staff writer

As a staff writer for SafetyCulture, Erick is interested in learning and sharing how technology can improve work processes and workplace safety. Prior to SafetyCulture, Erick worked in logistics, banking and financial services, and retail.