Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription Access

A benchmark system to optimize our defense against an attack on the US food supply using the Risk Reduction Effectiveness and Capabilities Assessment Program

Ofia Hodoh, MS, BS, Cham E. Dallas, PhD, Paul Williams, DVM, Andrew M. Jaine, PhD, Curt Harris, PhD


Objective: A predictive system was developed and tested in a series of exercises with the objective of evaluating the preparedness and effectiveness of the multiagency response to food terrorism attacks.

Design: A computerized simulation model, Risk Reduction Effectiveness and Capabilities Assessment Program (RRECAP), was developed to identify the key factors that influence the outcomes of an attack and quantify the relative reduction of such outcomes caused by each factor.

Setting: The model was evaluated in a set of Tabletop and Full-Scale Exercises that simulate biological and chemical attacks on the food system.

Participants: More than 300 participants representing more than 60 federal, state, local, and private sector agencies and organizations.

Results: The exercises showed that agencies could use RRECAP to identify and prioritize their advance preparation to mitigate such attacks with minimal expense. RRECAP also demonstrated the relative utility and limitations of the ability of medical resources to treat patients if responders do not recognize and mitigate the attack rapidly, and the exercise results showed that proper advance preparation would reduce these deficiencies.

Conclusions: Using computer simulation prediction of the medical outcomes of food supply attacks to identify optimal remediation activities and quantify the benefits of various measures provides a significant tool to agencies in both the public and private sector as they seek to prepare for such an attack.


emergency response, food terrorism, simulation, public health preparedness, intervention, food defense

Full Text:



Karwa M, Currie B, Kvetan V: Bioterrorism: Preparing for the impossible or the improbable. Crit Care Med. 2005; 33(1): S75-S95.

Smith DeWaal C: Rising imports, bioterrorism, and the food supply. Food Drug Law J. 2004; 59(3): 433.

Evans RG, Crutcher JM, Shadel B, et al.: Terrorism from a public health perspective. Am J Med Sci. 2002; 323(6): 291-298.

Onyango BM, Rimal A, Miljkovic D, et al.: Food safety risk perceptions as a tool for market segmentation: The US poultry meat market. J Food Distrib Res. 2009; 40(3): 79-90.

Devadoss S, Holland DW, Stodick L, et al.: A general equilibrium analysis of foreign and domestic demand shocks arising from mad cow disease in the United States. J Agric Resour Econ. 2006; 31(2): 441-453.

Ingelfinger JR: Melamine and the global implications of food contamination. N Engl J Med. 2008; 359(26): 2745-2748.

Hartnett E, Paoli GM, Schaffner DW: Modeling the public health system response to a terrorist event in the food supply. Risk Anal. 2009; 29(11): 1506-1520.

Wein LM, Liu Y, Bloom BR: Analyzing a bioterror attack on the food supply: The case of botulinum toxin in milk. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2005; 102(28):9984-9989.

Jaine AM: System and methods for improving hazardous incident prevention, mitigation and response. US Patent 61/144,428. Filed on January 13, 2009.

US Department of Homeland Security: Georgia FoodEx 2009 Full Scale Exercise After-Action Report and Improvement Plan 2009. Atlanta, GA: State of Georgia, 2009.

US Department of Homeland Security: National Exercise Program. Washington, DC: Federal Emergency Management

Agency, 2011.

US Department of Homeland Security: Overview of the National Planning Frameworks. Washington, DC: Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2013.

US Environmental Protection Agency: Reregistration Eligibility Decision for Methyl Parathion. Washington, DC: Office of Pesticide Programs, 2006.

Balali-Mood M, Abdollahi M: Basic and Clinical Toxicology of Organophosphorus Compounds. London: Springer, 2014.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Table 107, Hospitals, Beds, and Occupancy Rates, by Type of Ownership and Size of Hospital: United States, Selected Years 1975–2011. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, 2013.

Johnson YJ, Herrmann JA, Wallace RL, et al.: Development and implementation of a functional exercise to assess public health agency response to foodborne bioterrorism. J Homeland Secur Emerg Manag. 2009; 6(1): 1-11.

World Health Organization: Terrorist Threats to Food: Guidance for Establishing and Strengthening Prevention and Response Systems. Geneva: Food Safety Department, World Health Organization, 2008.

Pinkerton J: Company indicted in worker inquiry. Houston Chronicle. 2004. Available at Accessed March 14, 2014.

Gensheimer KF, Rea V, Mills DA, et al.: Arsenic poisoning caused by intentional contamination of coffee at a church gathering—An epidemiological approach to a forensic investigation. J Forensic Sci. 2010; 55(4): 1116-1119.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Nicotine poisoning after ingestion of contaminated ground beef—Michigan, 2003. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2003; 52: 413-416.

US Department of Homeland Security: Homeland Security Presidential Directive 9: Defense of United States Agriculture and Food. Washington, DC: Homeland Security, 2004.

US Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation: (U) Potential Terrorist Attack Methods Joint Special Assessment. Washington, DC: Homeland Security, 2008: 53 pp. Available at Accessed August 23, 2014.

Forest JJ, Howard RD, Sheehan AM: Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism. New York: McGraw Hill, 2013.



  • There are currently no refbacks.