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Agencies Launch Online Food Defense Tool

The federal government has launched a new tool to help farmers and producers keep food safe from bioterrorism.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have created an online tool called CARVER + Shock to help those in the food business “assess and mitigate vulnerabilities in their production processes.”

CARVER was developed by the U.S. military to identify areas that might be vulnerable to attack. The agencies have adapted the model and applied to the food and agriculture sectors.

“The software currently evaluates potential vulnerabilities in the supply chains of different foods and food processes. The FDA and APHIS worked with Sandia National Laboratories to develop the special agriculture module, designed primarily for harvest and pre-harvest food production operations,” according to an FDA statement.

“This assessment tool helps the producer understand how an attacker might thin,” said Stephen F. Sundlof, director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Nutrition (CFSAN). “Producers can easily identify weak spots in their operation and receive practical advice on countermeasures they can put in place.”

The food defense tool can be utilized by producers and farmers of all sizes. Participants simply answer a series of questions about their current processes and the software develops a set of recommendations to bolster security.

According to APHIS administrator Cindy Smith, the software is an important tool to improve food safety and security,”Being prepared is a tremendous asset. Farmers can now see firsthand what they can do to protect themselves and U.S. agriculture.”

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