The attack on September 11, 2001, motivated the United States government to evaluate the infrastructures that support our way of life to determine which are most vulnerable to a terrorist attack. The food and agriculture sector was one of 17 singled out. This was followed by the passage of legislation (the Bioterrorism Act of 2002) that significantly expanded government authority to prevent, detect, and respond to an attack.

When the target is the food supply, the goal of a terrorist would be to …

Figure 1. Risk space for intentional (bioterrorism agent) and unintentional (foodborne) contaminations. Nonobservable = risks that are unknown; observable = risks that are known and familiar; uncomfortable = risks that are involuntary and perceived with dread; and controllable = risks that are voluntary and confidently perceived.

Select agents of concern for food safety and food defense systems.

Figure 2. The food supply chain, showing product flow and demand flow.

Figure 3. Inputs into a food processing unit, the basic element of the food supply chain.

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