The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched its food defense awareness training kit for first line food industry employees, according to a recent press release. The training targets these individuals because they can play an important role in helping to keep our nation’s food supply safe, from the farm to the table.

Food industry management will use the FIRST tool kit as part of ongoing employee food defense training programs. The tool kit focuses on five key points that industry and businesses can use to educate first line workers about the risks of food contamination. It also provides industry with measures to consider and implement to reduce these risks. Each of the letters in the FIRST acronym describes an action that a first line employee can take to mitigate risks of contamination.

F – FOLLOWcompany food defense plan and procedures
I – INSPECTyour work area and surrounding areas
R – RECOGNIZEanything out of the ordinary
S – SECUREall ingredients, supplies and finished product
T – TELLmanagement if you notice anything unusual or suspicious

Single copies of the kit are available in English and Spanish. The kit is free to employees and includes one DVD, a training poster, and on-screen instructions. Copies can be obtained by ordering online from the Food Defense & Terrorism Web site: A Web-ready version of the kit will be available later this month.

The FIRST tool kit focuses on preventing food contamination. Prevention is the essential first step to help ensure the safety of the nation's food supply. A shift to an increased emphasis on prevention is at the core of the FDA’s Food Protection Plan. The FDA released the Food Protection Plan last fall and has been implementing the plan since that time. The plan provides a robust strategy to protect the nation's food supply from both unintentional contamination and deliberate attack.

The FIRST training kit is the second in a line of Food Defense Awareness Materials. ALERT, a program that was issued in July 2006, also focuses on prevention and identifies key points that supervisors and managers in industry and businesses can use to raise awareness of food defense issues and decrease the risks of food contamination.

A – ASSUREthat the supplies and ingredients are from safe and secure sources
L – LOOKafter the security of the products and ingredients
R –ProvideREPORTSabout the security of products
T –Know whom to notify if there’s aTHREAT, including suspicious behavior.

The FDA sets food safety standards, conducts inspections, takes regulatory action, and works with other government agencies and private sector organizations to help reduce the risk of tampering and other malicious, criminal or terrorist actions on our nation’s food supply.