Archived News

Western Institute for Food Safety and Security: Preparing for the Unthinkable

October 27, 2005

The Western Institute for Food Safety and Security (WIFSS) at the University of California, Davis is in the forefront of preparing California and the nation for the unthinkable: a potential terrorist attack on our food supply.

Through active dialogue, training, and policy development, the institute, working closely with partners in government, industry, and academia, has developed a comprehensive food security defense training plan and certified courses that the institute--a designated training partner of the Department of Homeland Security--will deliver as part of statewide agroterrorism-response training.

Supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security has developed the Agro-Preparedness Curriculum for Frontline Responders. The first course in the curriculum is Understanding the Dangers of Agroterrorism. This course, successfully piloted in four California locations, is to be released as the first of seven courses in November 2005.

WIFSS has also partnered in California with industry, government and academia to develop a one-day Food Security Tabletop Exercise, designed to stimulate constructive thinking about the challenges faced by state produce and retail industries. In June, an exercise was held in Tulare to address vulnerabilities of the produce industry of the Central Valley. This month, a similar exercise in Downey simulated an incident involving quick-service restaurants in Southern California. In both exercises, appropriate local, state, and federal government agencies participated alongside industry to emphasize the value of public-private collaboration in addressing this critical infrastructure vulnerability. Future exercises are in the planning phases.

WIFSS, with support from the California Department of Health Services, has also developed and piloted the Food Workers Awareness course focused on the large population of immigrant workers who work in fields and processing plants. The first course emphasized creating awareness for dairy workers, including how to identify abnormal activities or events. This training is being offered to other states to broaden the awareness of workers across the nation.

For further information:
Dr. Jerry Gillespie, Director
Western Institute for Food Safety and Security
University of California, Davis
279 Cousteau Place, Suite 100
Davis, CA 95616
(530) 757-5757