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Food, Lodging & Pools
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Minneapolis, MN 55415

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Food Defense 101

Food Defense vs. Food Safety

To understand a food defense incident, you first must understand the differences between a food safety incident and a food defense incident.

A food safety incident is caused from an accidental foodborne illness. Some examples of a food safety incident result from food handlers not washing their hands, cross-contamination, not cooking food to a temperature that kills bacteria, and an unsafe source.

A food defense incident is the result of intentional food contamination, meaning that the food was deliberately made unsafe (adulterated) to cause harm. This means that an individual(s) or groups of people might intentionally contaminate food. Reasons for intentional contamination may be to seek revenge against another person or group; create fear through a terroristic act by using food as a weapon to make people ill or even to cause death. In addition, another consequence that can result from a food defense incident is public fear that the government can't protect them from harm.

Why do we care?

We are all vulnerable to a food defense incident because we all eat. Since 1980, there have been over 673 documented food defense incidents globally. The history of these events has increased over the past 30 years. This suggests there are a greater number of people and organizations, including disgruntled employees, foreign and domestic terrorist groups, and "lone wolves," that are capable of leveraging the weaknesses in the food system as a means to create fear or harm the public.

Food defense incidents

Putting a food defense system in place

In preparation for Super Bowl 52, the city of Minneapolis identified a gap in overall awareness, training, and response around food defense incidents. The City developed one of the first food defense response plans in the country. The planning documents were the result of a coordinated effort among environmental health and law enforcement professionals from local to federal agencies, as well as academia.

What can you do?

The planning documents have been revised to serve as templates for other cities, counties, states, etc. to plan for a food defense incident response using a criminal-epidemiological framework. See resources below.

For more information, or to obtain a copy of these templates, please contact the Minneapolis Health Department at 612-673-2301 or [email protected] Include "Food defense" in your subject line.  


Food Emergency Response Planning Documents User Guide

Food Emergency Response Plan – Intentional Contamination Template

Appendix 1 – Training Materials Template

Appendix 2 – List of Select Agents and Toxins Template

Appendix 3 – Joint Threat Assessments Template

Appendix 4 – Joint Investigation Activities Template

Appendix 5 – Joint Interviews Template

Intentional Food Contamination Response Field Operations Guide Template

Food Defense Pocket Card


The Eight Patient


Minneapolis Health Department LogoShould you require a reasonable accommodation in order to fully participate, or information in an alternative format, please contact 612-673-2301.
Para asistencia 612-673-2700 - Rau kev pab 612-673-2800 - Hadii aad Caawimaad u baahantahay 612-673-3500.

Last updated Feb 14, 2019



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