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Biosecurity Checklist for School Foodservice Programs

The objectives for the Biosecurity Checklist for School Foodservice Programs are to:

  1. Introduce the need for securing foodservice operations from bioterrorism,
  2. Provide a checklist of suggestions for improving the security of your foodservice operation, and
  3. Assist you in developing a school foodservice biosecurity management plan.
What is “food biosecurity”?

In this tool, the term “food biosecurity” relates to the protection of food from bioterrorism. Bioterrorism is the intentional use of biological and chemical agents for the purpose of causing harm. Some government agencies are using the term “food security” instead of “food biosecurity.”(See footnote below.)

How does food biosecurity differ from food safety?

Both are about reducing the potential of causing serious illness and death. Food safety addresses ways to limit the presence of both naturally occurring food contaminates and those caused by cross contamination, and to prevent growth of organisms caused by time/temperature abuse. Food biosecurity addresses ways to limit the opportunity for someone to intentionally contaminate food for the purpose of causing harm or death. This publication discusses ways to help prevent food biosecurity failures.

What is a school foodservice biosecurity management plan?

In general, it is a way to prepare for the threat of bioterrorism to your foodservice operation. More specifically, it is a written document that spells out school policies and procedures that minimize the risk of intentional contamination of food and reduce the risk of illness or death in your school community. The plan should describe strategies for preventing threats and incidents of product tampering and food contamination. It also describes the appropriate response actions to be taken should an incident occur. By planning ahead, you will help protect the lives and health of the children and adults in your school environment and be prepared to respond to an emergency.

Does FNS require each school to have a foodservice biosecurity management plan?

FNS does not require or mandate that schools have a foodservice biosecurity management plan. However, given the reality of the threat that bioterrorism presents in our country today, FNS strongly urges schools to take precautions against bioterrorism either by developing a plan and implementing some or all of the suggestions provided in this publication or by implementing suggestions from other sources. While this tool mainly focuses on school foodservice both directly and indirectly, it would be wise to prepare your school for bioterrorist threats not related to food. The resource section identifies several resources for general bioterrorism preparedness.

How can our school efficiently implement all the guidelines we have chosen to be in our biosecurity management plan?

Since you may not be able to implement all security measures at one time, use the priority ratings included in the checklist to help you decide which measures to focus on first. FNS recommends implementing the guidelines in phases or groups. You can continue working in phases until all the measures chosen to be part of your plan are addressed and implemented. You should give priority to critical production areas.

What is a critical production area? What types of security measures are important for these areas?

A critical production area is an element of a food production process that may be particularly sensitive to potential adulteration. Examples include bulk storage containers, blenders/mixers, or large batch process operations. Security measures for these areas include: (1) restricting access only to authorized staff; (2) performing staff background investigations; and (3) implementing operational controls, such as monitoring sensitive operations/equipment, or locking bulk storage containers.

Footnote: FNS has historically used “food security” to relate to hunger and the amount of food that is available to our program participants. Rather than change the meaning of “food security” commonly used in FNS programs, FNS has elected to use the term “food biosecurity” in relation to protecting food from acts of bioterrorism.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. (2014).
A biosecurity checklist for school foodservice programs: Developing a biosecurity management plan.
Available at

National Food Service Management Institute, 2014
The University of Mississippi