Food Supply Safety and Security in Minnesota
What is the food supply?
From farm to fork, food safety concerns have dealt mainly with natural and accidental contamination. The Minnesota food industry is very complex, with thousands of meat and dairy herds, hundreds of manufacturers, processing plants and food distributors, thousands of retail stores, approximately 20,000 restaurants, schools, institutions and many other food facilities.
Who protects the Minnesota food supply?
It is up to all of us to watch for unusual events. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), and the Department of Public Safety, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) would respond to any intentional or accidental contamination of our food supply. The MDH, MDA and HSEM all have highly trained staff ready to respond.
Because we must keep our food supply safe, Minnesota food and dairy processing facilities have been advised to raise their level of security. Given the potential harm that could come from intentional misuse of agricultural chemicals, MDA has also issued preventive recommendations to our agricultural chemical industry — including aerial pesticide applicators.
What is the Minnesota Department of Health doing to protect food?
Even before September 11, 2001, Minnesota food service operators and regulatory personnel have learned to prevent contamination of food in retail food service establishments. Important advice includes:
- Maintain high levels of cleanliness and sanitation in establishments;
- Restrict access of non-essential personnel to kitchens and other food preparation areas;
- Encourage employees to monitor their work areas;
- Encourage customers to report suspicious behavior;
- Remove clutter and unwanted chemicals from the establishment;
- Ensure that salad bars are supervised; and
- Inspect orders of goods coming to the establishments, and maintain tracking systems of ingredients and outgoing food.
Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, state and local agencies have assisted the food industry to increase the safety of the state’s food supply. It is important to be aware that, generally, the rare attempt to contaminate food at restaurants has been limited to small geographic areas.
- Chemical and biological agents represent the greatest food safety threats to food service.
- Areas under constant monitoring to assure your safety include: the water supply; the power supply; releases of toxic materials; deliberate contamination of food; and outbreaks of plant and animal diseases.
For more information about the Minnesota Duty Officer:
Minnesota Duty Officer Program
Minnesota Department of Agriculture: If you have observed or suspect intentional or accidental contamination of food ingredients or food products, call the Minnesota Duty Officer at the number below.
Minnesota Board of Animal Health: If you have observed or suspect illness in a food producing animal, call the Minnesota Duty Officer at the number below.
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