How safe are you?

by Darryl Wernimont, director of marketing, POWER Engineers
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POWER Engineers

The initiatives associated with food security are not the same as those associated with food safety. With food safety, manufacturers work to prevent accidental contamination; with food plant security, manufacturers must work to prevent intentional acts.

The events of Sept. 11, 2001, placed a new level of awareness on facility and product security. Manufacturers are reaching out to leverage the capabilities of engineers, suppliers, contractors and regulators to help plan and implement facility security measures.

Evaluating a facility or a food security program, starts with six base assessment steps:

  1. Identify the threats
  2. Assess the risk
  3. Analyze risk control measures
  4. Make control decisions
  5. Implement risk controls
  6. Supervise and review.

At their heart, food security projects focus on site and facility access control (points of entry and exit), and the associated surveillance and monitoring.


In assessing the exterior of a facility, a site security program should encompass the following key components:

  • Assess overall facility and campus layout
  • Assess physical flow through and around the facility
  • Identify facility boundaries and apply appropriate control protocols
  • Review general infrastructure (employee parking, visitor parking, receiving, and shipping) design for flow and ease of security control and monitoring
  • Review internal and external lighting layout
  • Assess barriers and access point (fences, gates, electronic/key pass access etc.) design for control and monitoring (line of sight, guards, surveillance cameras, etc.)
  • Identify areas that require different levels of security and employee clearance
  • Implement restricted access control, e.g., keypads, access cards, guards, sign in/sign out, etc.
  • Review facility procedures to control activity during both peak operational periods as well as during off-hours or during shut down periods
  • Challenge industrial aspects of the building that could allow unauthorized access (utility points, water and sewage, HVAC, rooftop maintenance access points, skylights, ventilation systems, waste removal, etc.)
  • Evaluate materials of construction:
    • Walls: metal, concrete, wood, etc.
    • Doors: wood, metal or metal-clad, etc.
  • Evaluate windows
  • Evaluate skylights
  • Establish authorized parking on the premises (e.g., decals, key cards, bar codes, electronic access, video monitoring)
  • Train employees to recognize and report suspicious activity (one of the most important tools).


In assessing the interior of a facility, a site security program should consider the following key components with an eye to preventing unauthorized access or intentional contamination:

  • Identify “impact zones” within the facility and control access (run through “what if” scenarios)
  • Isolate utility/motor centers and instrumentation/control rooms where unauthorized changes in operational parameters could be made
  • Review segregation of traffic flows (general/service versus process/production areas)
  • Evaluate how facility design addresses raw and finished goods storage and handling (warehouses, silos, freezers, labs, etc.)
  • Review finished goods warehousing (loading and receiving docks, line of sight, lighting, points of entry and exit, roof access and structural make-up/walls)
  • Assess segregation of food areas from maintenance/industrial service areas where chemicals or cleaning agents can be accessed
  • Review, challenge and implement procedures for delivery, receipt and shipment of goods
  • Develop secure/lockdown protocol for facility access points, utility areas, storage vessels, etc.
    • Review protocol in line with applicable safety codes
  • Identify risks for all areas where products or ingredients are handled or stored (minor and major ingredients)
  • Establish scheduled and random line inspections and monitoring protocols
  • Controls and automation:
    • Record security protocols
    • Review password or administration access protocols (ensure they are established)
    • Review exiting employee protocols
  • Laboratory protocols:
    • Restrict access to laboratory areas
    • Review laboratory material controls (e.g., what comes in, what goes out)
    • Review management assignments
  • Initiate security protocols for plant water supply
  • Initiate security protocols for plant air supply
  • Block diagram key process areas with level of security identified (color code)
  • Develop and document product rework protocols
  • Ensure protocols are established to manage and secure the facility in case of an event
  • Ensure management and security protocols are established for contract workers
  • Review security protocols for controls/control centers (batching, process, packaging, inventory, etc.)
  • Train employees to recognize and report suspicious activity.


In the development of an overall facility security program additional aspects of a facility will require evaluation and, where appropriate, protocol development. These additional areas for consideration include:

  • Personnel programs
  • Visitor policies
  • Emergency procedures
  • Confidentiality maintenance
  • Raw materials
  • Finished goods
  • Receivables
  • Security staffing and procedures
  • Mail/packages
  • Storage and use of hazardous chemicals.


There is no cut-and-dried approach that will provide your facility with a simple solution. Once a plan is developed and put in place, the effort has only just begun. Facility security should be seen as an ongoing activity that will always be in a state of change. Just as a company reviews its product strategies to ensure that they are in line with its markets, a facility security plan requires similar reviews to remain ahead of the curve in terms of potential threats.

This story is sponsored by POWER Engineers, which has one of the most comprehensive teams of engineers and specialists serving the baking and snack industry. As an extension of its clients' engineering teams, the company provides program management, integrated solutions and full facility design for the baking and snack industry. Learn more at

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