Food defense

We explain what you can do to protect food from contamination on purpose or by accident.


Food defense
Protecting food from being contaminated or changed either on purpose or by accident to cause illness or harm.  

Intentional contamination
When food is contaminated or changed on purpose to cause: 

  • People to get sick or die 
  • Economic disruption 


  • A person seeks revenge against another person or group 
  • An unhappy employee tries harm an employer or former employer
  • A person creates fear through a terrorist act by using food as a weapon 

Unintentional contamination
When food is contaminated or changed by accident. 


  • Food handlers not properly washing their hands  
  • Cross-contaminating food 
  • Not cooking food to a safe temperature  
  • Getting food from an unsafe source 

What businesses can do

Simple steps can improve your food defense practices. 


Train your staff in food defense.

Secure access to your business

  • Keep doors locked
  • Limit access to areas where you store and prepare food
  • Only allow authorized personnel in kitchens and delivery areas


  • Check in all food deliveries
  • Check ID for delivery drivers and have them sign in
  • Compare items delivered to invoice or packing slip
  • Only accept food from approved sources

Food defense plan

The Minneapolis Health Department (MHD) found a gap in knowledge around food defense incidents. We identified a lack of:

  • Awareness
  • Training
  • Response

We developed a food defense response plan to address the gaps.

Response plan

We created a food defense incident response plan using a criminal science framework. This plan can serve as templates for cities, counties and states developing their own plan.

If you would like a copy of our plan, contact us. Please include "Food defense" in your email subject line.

Request a food defense plan from by emailing the Minneapolis Health Department

Plan sections

  • Food Emergency Response Planning Documents User Guide
  • Food Emergency Response Plan – Intentional Contamination Template
  • Appendix 1 – Training Materials Template
  • Appendix 2 – List of Select Agents and Toxins Template
  • Appendix 3 – Joint Threat Assessments Template
  • Appendix 4 – Joint Investigation Activities Template
  • Appendix 5 – Joint Interviews Template
  • Intentional Food Contamination Response Field Operations Guide Template
  • Food Defense Pocket Card

More resources

Contact us

Health Department




Public Service Building
505 Fourth Ave S, Room 520
Minneapolis, MN 55415

Office hours
8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Monday – Friday