Food Defence

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Food Defence is an important element in protecting your business and consumers from internal and external threats. It encompasses a range of potential threats from relatively common tamper hoaxes to less probable terrorist attacks. Often supply chain or manufacturing threats can be mitigated to reduce a wide range of threats. For example, putting a locking lid on a vat can reduce a wide range of potential intentional attacks. Food Defence Programs shall be developed to reduce the risks from both internal and external threats in order to protect your customers.

The definition of Food Defence is: “The process to ensure the security of food and drink from all forms of intentional malicious attack including ideologically motivated attack leading to contamination.” The motivation or root-cause for Food Defence is the intent to cause harm to consumers or companies intentionally. This is different than the motivation for Food Fraud that is exclusively for economic gain.

How is Food Defence Plan implemented?

To implement a Food Defence Plan is recommended to follow this strategy:

1.Establish a Food Defence team.

The threat assessment is performed by a multidisciplinary team with wide range of expertise (e.g. HR, Security, Quality, I.T., Production, Facility Manager). The composition of the team may evolve over time as the understanding of Food Defence evolves. It may be required the collaboration of an external expertise.

Moreover, it is required that the team have a Food Defence training. RepaQ offer training on how implement a Food Defence Plan in your companies.

2. Conduct a Threat Assessment, identify and evaluate potential threats. A Food Defence approach tries to answer the following key questions:

Who might want to attack us?

How might they do it?

What is the potential public health impact?

How can we prevent this from happening?

Familiarize yourself with which food/packaging processing attributes may make your food or package a target (e.g. large batches or ease of access intend to increase the risk). Include both external risks (elsewhere in the supply chain) and internal risks (e.g. site/equipment access, disgruntled employees).

It is important to identify as many threats as possible, so they can be assessed. After repeated or severe incidents, a subsequent threat assessment may determine that a mitigation measure is required.

3. Identify and select proportionate mitigation measures.

When defining a Food Defence strategy, the potential threats identified under 2 shall be assessed for their significance. A risk matrix like HACCP can be used (e.g. Likelihood of occurrence x Impact/Consequence).

4. Document the threat assessment, mitigation measures, verification and incident management procedures in a Food Defence Plan supported by the Food Safety Management System.

5. Develop an effective training and communication strategy and implement the Food Defence Plan.

The effectiveness of protecting yourselves is largely depending on people. These may be external (e.g. suppliers) or internal (your own associates). Therefore, a training and/or communication program is essential.

Here you can find a clarification on Food Defence and Food Fraud by BRC GS.


RepaQ can help you to develop and implement a Food Defence Plan specially for your company and do not forget that we impart training programs in company. Do not hesitate to contact us and obtain more information: