With all the time, manpower, and costs invested in cold chain management, there are crucial issues that may be overlooked. First and foremost, train and trust your personnel to alert management of any observed product condition or any chain of events that is out of standards. Food defense is something that should be taken very seriously, and the front-line operators should be instructed and encouraged to observe and immediately report any condition that is suspect. The threat of bioterrorism by the means of intentional contamination or malicious sabotage is a very real issue that requires constant vigilance by all parties involved in the food chain.
If someone with nefarious intentions decides he wants to taint or sabotage a food source, it is critical to put as many roadblocks in his way as possible. The key to making the food safe is by limiting access to the product. Evaluate all vulnerabilities and scrutinize who is able to access the food. There are many steps that can be taken to ensure the safety of the inventory, once created and shipped.
First, limit the access to trucks by keeping them locked and sealed. Only allow designated personnel to remove and verify bills of lading entries against the recorded and actual seal numbers affixed. Also, some producers are sealing the cases that are loaded in the truck with tamper-proof tape — another safety net. You must also control access to your facilities, and never allow a visitor to roam unaccompanied. Restrict access to all storage facilities. Perform background checks on all new personnel. Refuse to allow unknown carriers to lay over or park within the confines of your facility. These are all key steps on the front line of food defense and safety.
column by BEN ADAMS, JR.
BIO: Ben Adams, Jr. is an owner and president of Adams Cold Storage, LLC. He has been directly involved in citrus production, warehousing and distribution, as well as state and community support, since 1980. His current facility incorporates 200,000 square feet of multitemperature warehousing, with an extensive expansion plan on the horizon.