While food defense often gets overshadowed by food safety, it’s no less important. By protecting your food products against adulteration, tampering, and intentional contamination, you not only ensure customers and employees stay safe but also keep your company’s reputation and financial health intact — after all, the average food recall costs manufacturers an average of $10 million.

But beyond mitigating potential threats via physical measures to secure your facility, having good food defense requires training your staff to recognize and respond appropriately to potential threats.

Why is food defense training important?

All food facilities should develop appropriate food defense programs to minimize the risks associated with adulteration throughout the supply chain. Some facilities may also need to meet certain food defense regulatory requirements, such as FDA’s 21 CFR 121, whereby specialists must have proper food defense education, training, and experience under a standardized curriculum recognized by the FDA. Similarly, since 2017, food defense and fraud have been mandatory components of GFSI-recognized food safety certification programs, including the BRC, SQF, and FSSC 22000.

However, developing, implementing, and maintaining a successful food defense program requires the commitment and expertise of qualified staff who are well versed in the latest food defense best practices. While the FDA is not yet aggressively pursuing non-compliance despite the implementation deadline for these requirements having passed, it’s likely that the agency will soon practice more widespread enforcement. Companies must ensure their food defense training, policies, and practices are in good standing as soon as possible.

What does food defense training cover? 

Designed for anyone responsible for managing a food defense program, food defense courses typically include these topics:

  • The differences between food safety and food defense programs
  • How to develop and implement a food defense program, including vulnerability assessments, monitoring procedures, corrective actions, and verifications
  • How to identify and mitigate intentional adulteration events with actionable processes
  • Why you need a multidisciplinary food defense team, and how you can establish one
  • The latest FDA and GFSI food defense requirements and information

How do you choose the right food defense training provider?

With so many food defense training courses available, it’s imperative to choose the right one for your staff. When shopping around for food defense training providers, it's important to find one that:

  • Is taught by experts with on-the-field experience. Not only should they be knowledgeable about food defense, but also HACCP, FSMA, and food safety.
  • Prioritizes interactivity, such as quizzes, to test participants’ knowledge as they complete each lesson
  • Allows participants to ask questions and instructors to provide feedback
  • Is regularly updated with the latest information, regulation, and best practices
  • Includes additional training resources
  • Can be personalized for complex food production processes. Certain providers offer virtual or in-person private training customized to specific needs and challenges.

One of the most popular food defense courses on the market is AIB’s Food Defense Coordinator online training, which covers all this and more. Participants who successfully finish the course can complete an additional exam to become an AIB International Certified Food Defense Coordinator. For employees who simply need a refresher on the latest FDA regulations or need to recertify as a Food Defense Coordinator, we also offer a 2.5-hour Food Defense Update Webinar.

Getting Started With Food Defense Training Now

Food defense is vital to protecting your customers and employees. Whether the intentional adulteration is caused by a disgruntled employee or other bad actors, food that’s been tampered with or contaminated can cause serious health problems and damage your company’s reputation. Luckily, with proper food defense training in place, you can prevent these incidents.

Ready to stay current and compliant with the industry’s food defense practices? Learn more about AIB’s Food Defense Coordinator online course.

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