AbstractIntentional contamination of the food supply poses a real and potentially catastrophic threat to society. Overall, it has the potential to result in disastrous and far-reaching effects, including direct morbidity and/or mortality, disruption of food distribution, loss of consumer confidence in government and the food supply, business failures, trade restrictions, and ripple effects on the economy. Key interrelated factors specific to food and the food system create this unusual vulnerability, both structural and social. The efficiency of the food system enables products derived from a wide range of global sources to be sourced, produced, and distributed rapidly due to the speed of national and global just-in-time supply chains. The food industry’s routine food safety measures are not designed to protect against high-impact deliberate contamination. When contamination occurs, identification of its nature and extent may take days, weeks, or even longer. Unintentional foodborne illness can further complicate recognition of intentional contamination events due to the delay in positive association of illnesses to the intentional event. The food/agriculture sector’s infrastructure must be strengthened to mitigate potential harm resulting from deliberate contamination, thereby making the food system less vulnerable to attack or destructive economic outcomes. New upward price pressures, declining economies, and constantly changing global trade along the food system supply chain have introduced a new urgency for greater diligence in food defense against deliberate contamination with either economic or terrorist motives. Initiatives include the development of specific countermeasures to minimize or eliminate vulnerabilities, as well as the development of practical solutions that enhance the capability to rapidly identify, contain, respond to, and recover from intentional contamination, both real and threatened. These activities must encompass the entire worldwide farm-to-table food system, from pre-farm inputs through retail sale, consumer food consumption, and public health system response.KeywordsFood safetyIntentional contamination

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