U.S. farms, processors, restaurants and supermarkets can take a number of steps to better protect the nation's food supply, including conducting criminal background checks on employees, safeguarding water supplies and keeping closer watch on food sources, according to new guidelines issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The guidelines also suggest that food companies keep an eye on workers who linger on plant premises after their shifts and who restrict access to computer control systems, labs and other sensitive plant areas.The guidelines were drafted with assistance from food industry members as a result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

FDA issued similar guidelines for importers, advising that containers used in food transport be locked and sealed.

Both versions of the guidelines were published in the Federal Register.

In related news, a recent national survey by SECURITY Magazine indicates growing interest among all business types to improve workplace security. According to the survey, more than 80 percent of businesses have re-evaluated their operations, and many of have upgraded security equipment or increased security staffing.

"The distress goes beyond the largest businesses," said SECURITY editor Bill Zalud. "All types and sizes of organizations...are reviewing how parking lots, entrances, loading docks and mailrooms are protected."

Among the most common security upgrades: identification cards and badges for employees and visitors, security video inside and outside buildings and more careful background checks of job candidates.

SECURITY has published a special "take action" report for executives, managers and supervisors who don't have a full-time security manager in their organizations. To order "Business Security--In Times of Terror," contact SECURITY Magazine, 1050 IL Route 83, Suite 200, Bensenville, IL 60106. Enclose a check or money order for $25 per copy and your return mailing address.