To: NMA Members


Fr: Julie Ramsey and Roberto Escalante, National Meat Association


Re: FSIS Directive 5420.1


March 19, 2003


At the recent NMA Xpo in Las Vegas, Dr. Merle Pierson announced that FSIS would be working with Homeland Security on developing food safety measures. This collaboration resulted in FSIS publishing Directive 5420.1 entitled Homeland Security Threat Condition Response-Food Security Monitoring Procedures. This Directive is available online at and is summarized as follows.


In the event the Department of Homeland Security declares a threat that may or may not involve the nation’s food supply, this directive details actions to be immediately undertaken by inspection program personnel.  A declaration of a Threat Condition Orange indicates a high risk of terrorist attacks while a Threat Condition Red indicates a severe risk of terrorist attacks. Note that plants are not required to develop a security action plan and inspectors should not issue a noncompliance in the absence of such a plan.


If a Threat Condition Orange or Red occurs with no threat to the food supply, inspectors will notify the establishment. The IIC will monitor the establishment for unusual activity. Further actions will be taken by the IIC if notified by the District Office.


If a Threat Condition Orange occurs with a threat to the food supply, the IIC will immediately notify the establishment and emergency food security monitoring procedures will be executed instead of Other Consumer Protection procedures. Emergency procedures will include:

  1. Observe outer perimeters (fences, gates) to be intact, and entrances are secured against unauthorized entry.
  2. Verify incoming raw material against shipping documents.
  3. Observe arriving live animals for signs of disease introduced by biological agents.
  4. Observe the use and storage of hazardous materials, ensure entry is controlled, and usage logs are maintained and current.
  5. Observe products for signs of tampering.
  6. Check security of plant’s water system, water storage facilities, reuse systems, and potable water supply.
  7. Ensure maintenance and construction personnel are properly identified and authorized to perform activities.
  8. Observe production processes for signs of possible attempts to contaminate exposed product.
  9. Observe plant employees’ behavior and those in areas where they are not assigned to work.
  10. Observe vehicular traffic and loading dock areas. Report all unmarked vehicles and unattended deliveries on loading docks to establishment immediately.
  11. Report any potential food security breach to DO, Technical Service Center, and establishment.


If a Threat Condition Red occurs with a threat to the food supply, the IIC will receive specific instructions from the District Office to take in addition to the aforementioned emergency procedures. Instructions may include taking samples of specific products to protect public health and taking regulatory actions. Import inspectors will reinspect 100% of imported product.


The District Office will communicate to the IIC the downgrading of a threat condition. The IIC will inform the establishment and normal operating procedures will resume.


Please contact Julie Ramsey ([email protected]) or Roberto Escalante ([email protected]) at (510) 763-1533 for this directive or more information.