Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ham and Syringes

The recent discovery of syringe casings around the production line at a meat packing plant in Canada is a reminder of the threat of food and agricultural terrorism.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Maple Leaf Foods have recalled some ham and sliced meat products after police were called in to investigate a small number of syringe casings found at an Ontario plant ... Police said it was the third such discovery reported by employees in the past two weeks.

So far, there have been no reported illnesses associated with eating the products, and no tampered meat has been found on shelves.
This type of terrorism involves a vast array of potential access points. The food industry is inherently vulnerable.

For the local homeland security professional, preparedness and collaboration are vitally important. In the event of a widespread threat, public health officials and law enforcement would have to work closely. Communications planning is also vital. The public will have to be kept informed of the exact nature and extent of the threat.

One final thought: The selection of ham as the target (if this was in fact an act of tampering/terrorism) raises eyebrows. Could certain food products be more attractive to certain types of terrorists? For example, I could see jihadists being attracted to ham as a target, because Islam forbids the consumption of pork. Or radical animal-rights groups might be attracted to meat products of all kinds.

No comments: