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FDA and USDA Develop Software Tool to Help Mitigate Risks in Food Supply Chain

December 08, 2009

A risk assessment tool originally developed by the US military to identify areas that might be vulnerable to attack has been adapted to help farmers and food manufacturers assess and mitigate vulnerabilities in their production processes.

The software, called Agriculture CARVER + Shock, is now free and available online, thanks to the FDA and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  It evaluates potential vulnerabilities in the supply chains of different foods and food processes.

The FDA and APHIS partnered with Sandia National Laboratories to develop the special agriculture module, designed primarily for harvest and pre-harvest food production operations.

But, why is it called CARVER + Shock? The name is an acronym for the seven designated attributes for evaluation:

Criticality: What impact would an intentional attack have on public health or to the economy?
Accessibility: How easily can a terrorist get to this target?
Recuperability: How well could a system recover from an attack?
Vulnerability: How easily could an attack be accomplished?
Effect: What would be the direct loss from an attack, as measured by loss in production?
Recognizability: How easily could a terrorist identify a target?
Shock: What would be the psychological impact of an attack?

“This assessment tool helps the producer understand how an attacker might think,” says Stephen F. Sundlof, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Producers can easily identify weak spots in their operation and receive practical advice on countermeasures they can put in place.”

An assessment tool such as CARVER + Shock can be enormously beneficial in the nation’s food supply chain. (See posts here and here about how Congress is finally waking up to the realities of our food supply vulnerabilities.) Consumers gain improved food safety. Manufacturers gain increased supply chain visibility –and that, in turn, drives the informed decisions that have a direct, positive impact on a wide range of business objectives.

For more information and to download the software, visit www.fda.gov/Food/FoodDefense/CARVER/default.htm

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