FSIS Directive 5420.1 Food Defense Tasks and Threat Notification Response Procedures for the Office of Field Operations
(Part 1)


This directive provides instructions to conduct food defense activities assigned to inspection program personnel (IPP) at meat (including Siluriformes fish and fish products) 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 addressing threats to the food and agriculture sector. This directive has been updated to replace references to the Office of Data Integration and Food Protection (ODIFP) with the Office of Management's (OM), Significant Incident Preparedness and Response Staff (SIPRS) role in the threat notification process, and minor updates to the Food Defense Memorandum of Interview (MOI) instructions. This directive has also been revised to update where to find resources and references to egg products.


FSIS Directive 5420.1, Revision 10, Food Defense Verification Tasks and Threat Notification Response Procedures for the Office of Field Operations, 3/13/17


    A. Food defense is the protection of food products from intentional contamination or adulteration intended to cause public health harm or economic disruption. FSIS promotes food defense by encouraging establishments to voluntarily adopt a functional Food Defense Plan (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, 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 SIPRS Director 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 SIPRS Director or designee is to inform the FSIS Administrator and FSIS Management Council;

          3. The SIPRS Director or designee is to determine the appropriate distribution of the threat information and coordinate with the FSIS Office of Management (OM), Office of Field Operations (OFO), Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit (OIEA), Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Education (OPACE), Office of International Coordination (OIC), and 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. As soon as OFO 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 MOI (see FSIS Directive 5010.1, Food Safety Related Topics During Weekly Meetings).

    C. The SIPRS Director or designee is to notify the OM Assistant Administrator/Deputy Assistant Administrator (AA/DAA), the FSIS Administrator, and the FSIS Management Council of any changes in threat information, to include when the period of concern has expired. The SIPRS Director or designee is to coordinate with OFO, OIEA, OPACE, OIC, 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.

    D. 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)