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Food ‘war games’ may be in the offing

April 10, 2003
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In this post-9-11 world, U.S. food safety inspectors will likely view future food safety outbreaks through the prism of potential bioterrorism.

Deputy FDA Commissioner Lester M. Crawford Jr. signaled the new perspective in a speech at a recent State Department Open Forum. Crawford outlined four ways to prevent the food system from being used to launch an attack.

“Perhaps the most useful tool to counter food bioterrorism lies in the examination of past outbreaks with a view as to how these or similar events could be artificially reproduced,” Crawford said. He also suggested that food safety experts should view foodborne outbreaks as possible rehearsals for terrorist acts and called for development of analytical tests to catalog the agents most amenable to introduction into the food supply.

Finally, he called for the use of “food war games.” “The food safety community must become involved in the algorithm development and doomsday scenarios similar to those that the defense establishment has concocted for other agents of terror,” Crawford said.

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