The joke in certain circles is that the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which explicitly cites the need to guard against intentional adulteration, should more accurately be referred to as SCFEA: the Security Consultants Full Employment Act.
A bit harsh, but more than a few hardware suppliers and consultancies hope to capture the sales calls that are certain to come. Food companies that haven’t already addressed security are open-to-buy customers; those with advanced systems are candidates for upgrades to the latest technology.
An open checkbook is never a good policy, however, and more than a few food security professionals counsel caution. Trained, vigilant workers are frontline defenders against tampering and sabotage, so treating them like suspects can quickly become counterproductive. Management must tread lightly when deploying surveillance cameras inside the facility or risk undermining staff buy-in to food defense programs.
“When we put in cameras, we don’t sneak in and install them in the middle of the night,” says Bryan Fort, corporate security manager for McCormick & Company Inc., Sparks, MD. Employees are the first line of defense, he continues, and cultivating their support of the defense plan is much more important than cameras and other hardware. “It’s not about spying on your employees,” he adds. “It’s about assessing threats and risks that, for the most part, will be externally driven. Whenever we have had problems, we’ve been fortunate to have an engaged workforce.”
Thorough vetting of new hires and ongoing staff training are the most cost-effective security investments. Beyond that, a “layered approach” to facility security should be taken, Fort advises. Unfortunately, some companies fall prey to technology’s allure and install expensive security hardware, only to learn afterwards of the design flaws and other problems that become evident when systems are installed in a specific facility.