FDA Issues Software to Help Food Facilities Defend Against Attack

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week released a new tool to aid food industry growers, packers, processors, manufacturers, warehousers, transporters, and retailers in assessing the vulnerability of individual food facilities to biological, chemical, or radiological attack.

The CARVER + Shock Software Tool is a science-based prevention strategy to safeguard the food supply, and part of a broader food protection strategy currently being developed by FDA.

"FDA's goal in developing the CARVER + Shock software is to maximize protection of the American food supply," said FDA assistant commissioner for food protection David Acheson, M.D. in a statement. "The relative risk-ranking methodology used by the CARVER + Shock software tool has been designed to assist facility operators in identifying potential vulnerabilities and assist in providing preventive measures to increase the defense of products and operations."

FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition developed the software, together with Sandia National Laboratories, the Institute of Food Technologists, U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, National Center for Food Protection and Defense, state representatives, and private industry representatives.

The acronym CARVER refers to six attributes used to evaluate targets for attack:
--Criticality: What impact would an attack have on public health and the economy?
--Accessibility: How easily can a terrorist access a target?
--Recuperability: How well could a system recover from an attack?
--Vulnerability: How easily could an attack be accomplished?
--Effect: What would be the direct loss from an attack, as measured by loss in production?
--Recognizability: How easily could a terrorist identify a target?

CARVER also assesses an additional attribute: the psychological effects of an attack. For instance, the psychological impact tends to be greater when a many deaths occur or if the target has historical or cultural significance.

Other FDA efforts include the Strategic Partnership Program Agroterrorism Initiative, which helps identify sector-specific vulnerabilities, determine research gaps and needs, and increase coordination between the federal government and industry stakeholders, and the ALERT Initiative, launched last year and created to raise industry awareness of food defense and preparedness issues. CARVER builds on ALERT, enabling a more formal and detailed food defense assessment.

For more information on CARVER, visit www.fda.gov/consumer/updates/carvershock061107.html.
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