Food Engineering

The Bioterrorism Act: Six-figure security system

September 2, 2004


At Washington Quality Foods, Wonderware FactorySuite software automates the processing of custom-ordered product batches and maintains genealogy records on every batch produced.

In 1998, Washington Quality Foods purchased a 40-plus acre site near Baltimore for its new dry products mixing and packaging facility. In 2000, after a multi-million dollar investment, the company opened a mixing facility, including FactorySuite automation software from Wonderware. The software includes an InBatch batch management system that automates the processing of custom-ordered product batches and maintains genealogy records on every batch produced. Genealogy records are required by customers in order to meet rigid product recall requirements.

In addition to tracing and tracking, Tony Murray, Washington’s director of information services says plant security has been a big investment for his company as a result of the Bioterrorism. Act.

Jay Jeffreys, program manager for Wonderware eCompliance solutions, says that traceability solutions, including eCompliance, start at $50,000 including basic on-site services. But following enactment of the Bioterrorism Act and FDA guidelines on food plant security, customer audits began to include more prevention requirements such as plant security.

In fact, says Tony Murray, director of information services at Washington Quality Foods, the biggest impact of the Bioterrorism Act has been investment in plant security. This included a three-phase plan to increase security as well as operator training and screening. The plan called for replacement of the current guard service with more secure identity assurance and intrusion deterrent technology.

In the first phase, Washington blocked up or locked all doors to the facility and provided only three authorized access entrances. Employees are allowed access by entry of a pass code plus their biometric thumbprint. Visitors have access to the unmanned lobby where they can call an employee, who is required to escort the visitor in and out of the facility. The cost of this phase was more than $20,000.

In the second phase just completed, Washington is increasing security around the fence covering twenty acres of the site. It is wired to detect intrusion and tied to an alarm system, lights, and a pan-zoom-tilt camera system. The cost of this phase was more than $60,000.

Phase three is expected to cost between $20,000-$30,000. It will include separate gate access for employees and another for suppliers, transporters, and customers. Employee access will be through some form of identity assurance. Other accesses will have cameras and communications, with access controlled remotely by the receiving department.