Since September 11, FDA has devoted more of its resources to countering potential terrorist threats to the food supply. Deputy Commissioner Lester M. Crawford told the Consumer Federation of America recently that the agency is paying particularly close attention to the U.S. meat supply, which could be vulnerable to intentional infection of cattle or other livestock.

So far this year FDA has hired at least 250 new inspectors who will monitor the food distribution system from the farm through processing, retail delivery and consumer sale. An FDA spokesman said the agency is authorized to hire as many as 650 new inspectors. Naturally, food processors will feel the impact from the new focus on food security, and industry groups are participating in the government’s planning process.

Many food plants have already implemented heightened security measures, including random screenings of product for pathogens.