Protections against deliberate attacks on food and drink supply chains (UK)

Newly revised guidance that can be adapted by food and drink businesses of all sizes to defend their viability and the safety and integrity of their supply chains against deliberate attacks will be particularly valuable to small and medium firms which lack specialist advice, claims the Food Standards Agency, which has published the guidance jointly with the British Standards Institution.

‘Guide to protecting and defending food and drink from deliberate attack’ is the latest version of the Publicly Available Specification guidance entitled PAS 96:2017. Based on the Threat Assessment Critical Control points (TACCP) risk management methodology, its paramount concern is with the integrity and safety of food and drink, although its scope includes all threats to, and elements of, the supply chain.

TACCP complements Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), a methodology which has proved effective globally over many years against major food poisoning outbreaks caused accidentally. Many precautions taken under HACCP to assure the safety of food are also likely to deter or detect deliberate attacks.

The guidance explains the TACCP process, outlines steps that can deter an attacker or give early detection of an attack, and uses fictitious case studies to show its application. Broadly, it enables food business managers to anticipate the motivation, capability and opportunity of attackers, then helps them to devise protection.

Types of threat identified in the guidance and illustrated by case studies comprise

  • economically motivated adulteration (eg in 2016, 2.5 tonnes of rice confiscated because customs officials in Nigeria suspected it was made from plastic)
  • malicious contamination (eg in 2005, a major British bakery reported that several customers had found glass fragments and sewing needles inside the wrapper of loaves)
  • extortion (eg in 2008 a man was jailed in Britain for threatening to bomb a major supermarket and contaminate its products)
  • espionage (eg Reuters reported in 2014 that a woman was charged with attempting to steal patented U.S. seed technology as part of a plot to smuggle types of specialised corn for use in China)
  • counterfeit (eg in 2013, enforcement officers seized 9,000 bottles of fake Glen’s Vodka from an illegal factory)
  • cyber crime (in 2016, reports suggested that criminals had hacked Deliveroo accounts to order food on victims’ cards)

Four annexes provide further information on

  • TACCP case studies
  • sources of information and intelligence about emerging risks to food supply
  • complementary approaches to food and drink protection
  • 10 steps to cyber security: A board level responsibility

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