Food Defense Plan

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

manufacturing worker following food defense plan

Published 11 Oct 2021

What is Food Defense Plan?

A food defense plan is a tool that aims to help quality managers in the food business to meet the requirements of the Mitigation Strategies to Prevent Food Against Intentional Adulteration regulation (21 CFR Part 121) by the FDA. It outlines the process of protecting food products from intentional adulteration or contamination that can harm consumers, business establishments, or the general public. Use of a food defense plan isn't required by law, but it is best practice to use the plan to supplement education, training, and experience for food safety. Doing so will be beneficial in avoiding food safety incidents, costly recalls, and disruptions in food production.

This article will briefly discuss:

How do I Create a Food Defense Plan?

A food defense plan can be created by adapting the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) four conditions on food defense plans and creating it according to the unique needs of your business. Follow these four steps to create your own food defense plan:

Step#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.

Step#2: Implementation

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

Step#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.

Step#4: Continuous improvement

FSIS recommends reviewing the food defense plan at least once a year. Others recommend every three years or sooner if there are changes in operations. Based on audit reports, industry best practices, the latest regulations on food safety, and new hazards, 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:

Area

Vulnerability

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)

You can use a food defense plan template like this sample form as a guide.

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. 

SafetyCulture staff writer

SafetyCulture staff writer

Erick Brent Francisco

Erick Brent Francisco is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2018. As a content specialist, he is interested in learning and sharing how technology can improve work processes and workplace safety. His experience in logistics, banking and financial services, and retail helps enrich the quality of information in his articles.

Erick Brent Francisco is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2018. As a content specialist, he is interested in learning and sharing how technology can improve work processes and workplace safety. His experience in logistics, banking and financial services, and retail helps enrich the quality of information in his articles.