Historically, I have tried to impart a light-hearted slant on the often-serious issues I write about here. This month, I will not. The issue is food safety as it relates to tampering. 
The world has changed a great deal in the past 10 years. September of this year will mark the 10-year anniversary of possibly the darkest day our nation has ever known. In spite of the decade that has passed and the incredible job our leaders have done to keep our great nation safe, we must continue to remain vigilant.

Our food supply is the envy of the world. At no other time in history has so much food been so readily available as it is in America today. That is something of which anyone working in the food industry should be very proud. Unfortunately, however, our food supply may also serve as a target to those who would do us harm.

As a result, the hard-working people in the food industry often serve as the last defense between our food and those who would go to great lengths to bring us heartbreak and devastation.

All companies, whether producing, storing, transporting or serving food, must remain cognizant of security risks and act preemptively to keep our food safe. Although the civil ramifications of a disaster would be devastating to a company, they pale in comparison to the potential human cost.

Taking proactive steps like conducting security audits, doing background checks on prospective employees, providing identification badges to employees, securely storing chemicals and cleaning agents and training employees to be alert for and report signs of tampering can help to avert potential disaster. Managers must instill a culture of food-safety awareness and ensure that each employee keeps a watchful eye against any tampering.

The food industry’s accomplishments epitomize the toughness and “can do” spirit of Americans. It is up to you, once again, to take the steps necessary to keep our nation safe by ensuring the security of our food.

Thank you for feeding our families. And, thank you for keeping us safe.

Shawn K. Stevens defends and counsels meat companies in foodborne illness matters throughout the United States. Mr. Stevens also assists industry clients with regulatory compliance, recall planning, crisis management and other issues in advance of and following major food-product recalls. Additional information about his practice can be found at www.defendingfoodsafety.com.