After recent reports of food product tampering at the retail level, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reminding industry of strategies that can help to prevent tampering and intentional adulteration of food.

Guidance for Industry: Food Security Preventive Measures Guidance for Retail Food Stores and Food Service Establishments, dated October 2007, is a guidance document that will help industry to prevent tampering of food. FDA recommends that food retailers review the guidance in each section that relates to a component of their operation and assess which preventive measures are suitable. 

Under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), FDA is also sharing a Final Rule entitled Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food Against Intentional Adulteration, last updated in September 2018. This is directed to food processing facilities, but may also be informative to retail establishments

Below, FDA highlights the steps that industry can take to prevent tampering and destruction of food products:

  • Inspect incoming products and product returns for signs of tampering, contamination, or damage.
  • Develop a system for receiving, storing, and handling distressed, damaged, and returned products, and products left at checkout counters, that minimizes their potential for being compromised.  
  • Inspect products displayed for retail sale for evidence of tampering. Look for off-condition appearance (i.e. stained, leaking, damaged packaging, missing or mismatched labels, evidence of resealing, proper stock rotation, etc.).
  • Monitor public areas for unusual or suspicious activity using security guards, monitored video cameras, one-way and two-way windows, place employee workstations for optimum visibility.

Additional steps that can prevent tampered products from reaching consumers include incorporating food defense awareness into employee training, providing periodic reminders of security procedures to staff, and encouraging staff awareness and participation in preventing tampering. 

FDA as also made available the Employees FIRST training that is meant to support stakeholder awareness training.  

Finally, the See Something Say Something campaign has even more information regarding indicators of suspicious activities and recommended protective measures for foodservice and retail food establishments. 

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