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This report details the activities and findings of a three year research project funded by The National Center for Food Protection and Defense at the University of Minnesota, a Homeland Security Center of Excellence. The project was conducted by three universities each taking responsibility for collecting data on a different part of the food supply chain. The overall goal was to ascertain the food defense practices and readiness of food firms along the food supply chain to defend their food and other assets from a potential terrorist attack. David Closs in the Supply Chain Management Center at Michigan State University was the named leader of the overall project. Dr. Closs and his colleagues investigated the practices of food manufacturers and some wholesalers. Chip White and Alan Erera from the Georgia Institute of Technology investigated the practices of trucking companies and Jean Kinsey and colleagues at The Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota investigated the food defense practices of retailers (grocers and foodservice) and wholesalers who supply both these channels. This report focuses on the work of The Food Industry Center and the benchmarks of the retail and wholesale food companies. This project addresses the need to increase awareness of food system vulnerabilities among retail and wholesale food companies and enhance their preparedness for catastrophic incidents. Initial interviews and pilot surveys established the management and operations practices at retail, wholesale, and food service companies that lead to tightened security at a variety of food companies. The lessons learned from the initial stage of the project were incorporated into a comprehensive survey to ascertain the best practices in management, employment, communication, and information preparedness among firms in the wholesale/retail end of the food supply chain. The project will produce a benchmark report against which food companies can judge their relative level of preparedness for prevention, detection, response, and recovery. Results will be used to develop a set of best practices, a benchmarking (diagnostic) software tool for food companies to use and recommendations on improving food security practices, protecting employees and consumers, reducing vulnerabilities, and enhancing consumer confidence in the safety of the food supply.


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