FSIS Directive 5420.1 Food Defense Verification Procedures and National Terrorism Advisory System Alert Response for the Office of Field Operations
(Part 1)


This directive provides instructions to conduct food defense activities assigned toinspection program personnel (IPP) at meat and poultry establishments, egg product plants, and import inspection establishments. Food defense activities include performing food defense tasks and observing and reporting food defense vulnerabilities. This directive also outlines the internal FSIS communication protocol for threats to the food and agriculture sector. NOTE: In the Public Health Information System (PHIS), the word "establishment" appears for meat, poultry, and import inspection establishments, as well as egg products plants.


FSIS Directive 5420.1, Revision9, Food Defense Verification Tasks and Threat Notification Response Procedures for the Office of Field Operations, 10/19/15


Significant changes in this directive include removal of the annual food defense plan (FDP) survey and modification of frequency and content for food defense tasks. IPP will no longer perform four food defense tasks per month, but instead will perform one comprehensive food defense task per quarter. These changes will improve efficiency for IPP and will enhance data quality by providing more specific data on food defense practices being implemented by establishments.


    A. Food defense is the protection of food products from contamination or adulteration intended to cause public health harm or economic disruption. FSIS promotes food defense by encouraging establishments to voluntarily adopt a functional FDP, implement food defense practices, and conduct training and exercises to ensure preparedness. Food defense practices are policies, procedures, or countermeasures to mitigate vulnerability to intentional contamination. IPP perform food defense tasks to identify vulnerabilities within establishments that may lead to intentional contamination of FSIS-regulated product.

    B. A functional FDP can help an establishment prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from an intentional contamination incident. The absence of a functional FDP may increase an establishment?s vulnerability to intentional contamination because important security measures needed to protect the facility, product, and employees may not be in place. Functional FDPs are voluntary in official FSIS-regulated establishments (i.e., not mandated by regulation); however, FSIS encourages establishments to adopt a functional FDP to further protect their product. If establishments choose to develop a functional FDP, they are not required to share it with IPP.


    A. IPP are to know the protocol for communicating threat information related to the food and agriculture sector to establishment management through proper supervisory channels as necessary. Threat information from the intelligence community is to be communicated through the following:

        1. The FSIS Office of Data Integration and Food Protection (ODIFP) Assistant Administrator (AA) or designee is the primary point of contact for receipt of threat information from the intelligence community;

        2. If a threat has the potential or is expected to affect food or agriculture, the ODIFP AA or designee is to inform the FSIS Administrator and FSIS Management Council;

        3. The ODIFP AA or designee is to determine the appropriate distribution of the threat information and coordinate with the FSIS Office of Field Operations (OFO), Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit (OIEA), the Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Education (OPACE), and the Office of Public Health Science (OPHS) to notify employees, stakeholders, and the public, as appropriate; and

        4. In the event of a significant incident, the FSIS Emergency Management Committee may be alerted or activated and other response actions taken pursuant to FSIS Directive 5500.2, Significant Incident Response.

    B. Supervisory personnel are to ensure that any notifications distributed to field employees pursuant to this directive are available to IPP in the establishment.

    C. As soon as supervisory personnel are notified of threat information, they are to inform establishment management of the alert. IPP are to document their discussion with establishment management in a memorandum of interview (MOI) (see FSIS Directive 5010.1, Food Safety Related Topics During Weekly Meetings).

    D. ODIFP is to notify the FSIS Administrator and the FSIS Management Council of any changes in threat information, to include when the period of concern has expired. ODIFP is to coordinate with OFO, OIEA, OPACE, and OPHS to notify employees, stakeholders, and the public, as appropriate. Supervisory personnel are to advise other IPP in the establishment and establishment management of the change in threat status.

    E. If IPP observe a potentially significant incident that presents a grave, or potentially grave, threat to public health or to the safety of FSIS-regulated product or to personnel, they are to report it through supervisory channels. IPP are to follow instructions provided in FSIS Directive 5500.2, which also lists examples of significant incidents.
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FSIS Directive 5420.1 (PART 1)