food defense practices, food safety, intentional food contamination, restaurant preparedness



  1. Xirasagar, Sudha MBBS, PhD
  2. Kanwat, C. P. MBBS, MPH
  3. Smith, Lillian U. DrPH, MPH, CHES
  4. Li, Yi-Jhen MHA
  5. Sros, Lekhena MPH
  6. Shewchuk, Richard M. PhD


Food safety and food defense are both responsibilities of public health agencies. Food safety practices within restaurants are regulated by state and local public health laws based on the US Food and Drug Administration Model Food Code. However, little is known about preemptive practices against intentional food-borne outbreaks within restaurants. The researchers administered a survey to a 50 percent random sample of South Carolina's restaurants, a state that relies heavily on tourism and the restaurant industry for its economic well-being. The survey received a response rate of 15 percent. The food defense practice items fall under three functional categories: employee management and training practices; vendor and delivery-related practices; and physical facilities and operational security practices. This study presents the results, classified by geographic region. Findings indicate some key areas of vulnerability that need attention to protect the public from mass food outbreaks due to intentional contamination. Of concern, there is much variation in practices by geographic region. On the basis of the survey, recommendations are made to improve restaurant preparedness against food-borne outbreaks from terrorism and malevolent contamination.