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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A supermarket operator could be the subject of one of four agro-terrorism preparedness pilot visits that the U.S. government is planning, as part of its new national effort to protect the nation's food supply from terrorist threats, a U.S. Department of Agriculture spokeswoman told Progressive Grocer yesterday.
All sectors of the food supply chain, from farms to restaurants as well as stores, are being analyzed in the effort, which involves the USDA, Department of Health and Human Services' Food and Drug Administration, Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in collaboration with state and local government entities and industry.
The specific destinations for the pilot visits haven't been determined yet, the spokeswoman said. "The Food and Agriculture Sector Coordinating Council, which is the main conduit for getting this information out, is in the midst of soliciting volunteers," she noted, in reference to the voluntary alliance of all the major sectors in the food industry, including restaurants, retailers, food processors and manufacturers, and animal and plant producers.
The government's new coordinated food security initiative was unveiled this week during the Food and Agriculture Sector Coordinating Council meeting in Washington. The USDA and other federal groups said jointly that they hope to have teams of federal and state officials traveling to all 50 states to meet with all sectors of the food chain over the next year. Together, the federal, state, and private industry partners plan to discuss security issues from farm-to-table and consider ways to better protect the nation’s food supply.
-- Jenny McTaggart