Companies that ship meat, poultry and eggs should tighten security to protect the nation’s food supply against terrorist, according to voluntary guidelines released by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

FSIS Safety and Security Guidelines for the Transportation and Distribution of Meat, Poultry and Egg Products is designed to help facilities and shippers that handle meat, poultry and egg products strengthen their food safety and security plans. The guidelines provide recommendations to ensure the security of food products through all phases of distribution.

“Protecting food during transportation and storage is a critical component in our defense against all types of foodborne contaminants,” says FSIS Administrator Garry L. McKee. “These guidelines will further enhance the safety and security of meat, poultry and egg products throughout the food distribution chain.”

The guidelines address points in the transportation and distribution process where potential contaminants could be introduced, including loading and unloading, and in-transit storage. Companies should make security improvements like providing workers with additional training and increasing oversight of trucks, ships and airplanes carrying food, department officials said.

They noted that terrorists are most likely to sabotage hamburger, chicken or other meat and poultry products as they are loaded and unloaded from freight trains or trucks. Those are moments when workers should closely monitor the shipments, the department said.

FSIS also recommends that:

  • Truckers and other workers should be trained to deal with intentional and unintentional contamination of the food they are hauling.
  • Those who are hauling meat products should routinely check their loads to ensure they haven't been tainted and that the food is kept at the proper temperature.
  • Processors should make sure the company shipping their product has a security program to protect the food.
  • Shippers also should check the seals on the doors of boats, planes and trucks carrying meat, poultry and eggs, to ensure that no one has broken in.

FSIS Safety and Security Guidelines for the Transportation and Distribution of Meat, Poultry and Egg Products is now available on the FSIS Web site at www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/topics/biosecurity.htm.

You can submit written comments on the guidelines to the Federal Register notice no later than Oct. 3, 2003, to the FSIS Docket Room, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Room 102, Cotton Annex, Washington, DC 20250-3700

Associated Press