The debate over whether or not to publish a scientific paper that analyzed how a bioterror attack might occur within the food supply has generated a big media to do. However, it seems all of that attention may have been all for nothing.

According to a joint statement from DMI (which manages the national dairy producer checkoff program), NMPF and IDFA the dairy industry has instituted a lot of safeguards to protect the milk supply since 9/11. In fact, those safeguards make the possibility that the events described in the scientific paper could ever happen “highly unlikely.” 

The joint statement follows:

Joint statement by the dairy industry (DMI, NMPF and IDFA) in response to the publication of "Analyzing a Bioterror Attack on the Food Supply: The Case of Botulinum Toxin in Milk," by Lawrence Wein and Yifan Liu in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Dairy Industry Vigilant in Addressing Food Security

The safety and security of the milk supply is of the utmost importance to America's dairy farmers and dairy foods companies.  For the past three years – since the events of 9-11 – the dairy industry has been working closely with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other government departments to further safeguard the milk supply from a variety of possible threats.  This includes safeguarding against the events described in the Wein paper recently published in the Proceedings of the NationalAcademy of Sciences.  In short, the events described by the Wein paper are highly unlikely given the safeguards in place by the dairy industry.

Based on a thorough analysis of possible threats to the milk supply, the dairy industry has worked diligently, without fanfare, to implement a wide range of measures to secure facilities and the milk supply. For example, dairy farmers and processors have implemented new standards for sealing milk tankers; any unauthorized opening of a tanker before its delivery to a processing plant is immediately evident. Processors have also implemented additional pasteurizing safeguards which eliminate the botulism threat that Wein describes.

In addition, U.S. dairy employers have taken many proactive steps to increase awareness among employees about security measures at the farm and in processing facilities, including increased security of milk storage areas. Dairy plants have secured entry systems, employee screening programs and restricted access on the plant floor.  Packaging operations are automated, enclosed and secure. The industry remains committed to security and safety issues and continually evaluates the milk supply chain to make certain America's milk supply is safe.