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Demeter's Resilience: An International Food Defense Exercise

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Abstract:

The National Center for Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD), which is led by the University of Minnesota, hosted an international food defense exercise on 27 to 29 May 2008. Established in 2004, NCFPD is a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence with the mission of defending the food system through research and education. Tabletop exercises are practice-based scenarios intended to mimic real life experiences. The objective of the exercise discussed in this article was to facilitate discussion to increase awareness among exercise participants of both the threat that would be posed by an intentional attack on the food supply and the international impact of such an attack. Through facilitated discussion, exercise participants agreed on the following themes: (i) recognition of a foodborne disease outbreak is driven by the characteristics of the illness rather than the actual number of ill individuals; (ii) during the course of a foodborne outbreak there are generally multiple levels of communication; (iii) a common case definition for a foodborne disease is difficult to develop on a global scale; and (iv) the safety and health of all individuals is the number one priority of all parties involved. Several challenges were faced during the development of the exercise, but these were overcome to produce a more robust exercise. The following discussion will provide an overview of the challenges and the strategies used to overcome them. The lessons learned provide insight into how to plan, prepare, and host an international food defense exercise.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: National Center for Food Protection and Defense, University of Minnesota, 144 Veterinary Science Building, 1971 Commonwealth Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota 55108, USA. henne153@umn.edu 2: National Center for Food Protection and Defense, University of Minnesota, 144 Veterinary Science Building, 1971 Commonwealth Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota 55108, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2010

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