This past July, an unsettling story came out that detailed how several passengers on four Delta flights, bound for the United States from the Netherlands, bit into sandwiches containing small needles. The FBI, Delta Airlines, and Gate Gourmet, the Amsterdam-based company that produced the meals, all took the event quite seriously, as surely as many travelers did as well when hearing of the story.
These types of events prompt the food industry to reflect further on a major focus of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA): food security and food defense. Food safety issues resulting from mistakes and/or negligence have largely been the focus of many media outlets, but the need to protect the food chain from malicious attacks is another key area of concern in the market and within the FSMA itself. No matter the motive, Gate Gourmet is treating the case “as a criminal act”.
Like other facets of food safety, food defense as well as food security are being targeted with controls that aim at prevention. To prevent attacks, the Act intends to improve areas such as inspections of foreign food facilities, zeroing in on smuggled food, identifying vulnerable areas of the food supply chain, and focusing on imports and ports of trade.
There is no doubt that a story like the Delta case will bring some additional focus from the general public on food security and food defense as part of the larger implementation of the FSMA, as it should. Events like this one also act as unfortunate reminders of the need for our vigilance within the food industry to look not only for potential mistakes but also for malicious attacks in the food supply chain. To check out more about food defense and food security, along with all other aspects of the FSMA click here.