All course information is listed within this syllabus.

AGBIO/FDSC 521: Food Defense: Prevention Planning for Food Processors (3 credits). This course prepares current and aspiring professionals to learn, recognize, and apply measures to prevent intentional contamination of the food supply.

Prerequisites: None


Instructor for AGBIO/FDSC 521

Josephine Wee, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Food Science

Department of Food Science
432 Rodney A. Erickson Food Science Building
University Park, PA 16802

E-mail: Use Canvas Inbox

Learn more about Dr. Josephine Wee at PSU's Department of Food Science.

Course Overview

The goal of this course is to provide food industry professionals with information to assist them in recognizing and applying measures to prevent intentional contamination of the food supply. This course focuses on hazards associated with the food supply; the differences between unintentional and intentional contamination of the food supply; methods for detecting hazards; risk analyses and/or assessment; prevention of intentional contamination; crisis management, including recalls; and development of a food defense plan. Students will garner basic information about food safety as it relates to food defense, the role of risk analyses, and risk assessment in developing a food defense plan and apply this knowledge to real-world scenarios. Students also will undergo training in crisis management in order to prepare them for an intentional contamination incident. And finally, students will be required to develop and present a food defense plan.

Description of the Course

This course will not only provide participants with knowledge of the domestic and international food industry, but it also provides tools for food industry and homeland security professionals to develop food defense programs to protect the food supply from terroristic activities leading to intentional contamination.

The course will introduce and apply: examples where intentional contamination has been used in the food industry; biological, chemical, and physical hazards of primary concern in the food industry; methods for detecting hazards in the food supply; systems employed to monitor foodborne illness in the general public; management practices employed in food production to deal with recalls and other crises; vulnerabilities and mitigation procedures unique to food production; as well as, agencies, resources, and tools needed to protect, prepare, and respond to intentional contamination incidents.

This course is a required course for the certificate program in agricultural biosecurity as well as the Master of Professional Studies in homeland security - agricultural biosecurity and food defense option. These principles also will be incorporated into a food defense plan, recall plan, and emergency preparedness plan for an assigned food establishment.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Identify the issues and challenges of protecting the food supply from intentional contamination.
  • Identify and utilize knowledge and skills necessary to contribute to a food industry organization's effort in food defense.
  • Identify and utilize tools to assess, understand, and prepare appropriate responses and plans to mitigate and reduce the vulnerabilities and risks of an intentional contamination incident to a food processing establishment.
  • Explain the processes by which an organization can identify threats, implement recall strategies, and prepare for emergencies and/or crises.

Course Outline

Module 1: Characteristics of the U.S. Food Supply

Module 2: Hazards Associated With the Food Supply

Module 3: Epidemiological Investigations

Module 4: Risk Analysis

Module 5: Food Defense

Module 6: Food Defense Case Study 1

Module 7: Food Defense Case Study 2

Module 8: Crisis Management and Emergency Preparedness

Module 9: Development and Presentation of a Food Defense Plan

Module 10: Student Presentations and Critiques

Course Schedule

For due dates, refer to the Course Summary on the Syllabus page in Canvas.

Writing Resources for AGBIO Option Students

Penn State Graduate Writing Center

The PSU writing center offers writing consulting to Penn State graduate students including online students through distance consulting.

Purdue OWL

The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University houses writing resources and instructional material, and they provide these as a free service of the Writing Lab.

This resource covers many topics related to writing including developing outlines, grammar, different types of writing, and proofreading.

Grading Policy

The following table is the grading criteria for the course.

Grading Criteria
Requirement Cumulative Point Value Weight
Class Participation 175 20%
Quizzes 470 20%
Case Studies 300 20%
Plans and Presentation of Final Project 200 20%
Final Exam 100 20%
TOTAL: 1245 100%

The following table is the grading scheme for the course.

Grading Scheme
Letter Grade Percentage
A 100% – 94%
A- < 94% – 90%
B+ < 90% – 87%
B < 87% – 84%
B- < 84% – 80%
C+ < 80% – 77%
C < 77% – 70%
D < 70% – 60%
F < 60%

Please refer to the University Grading Policy for Graduate Courses for additional information.

NOTE: If you are planning to graduate this semester, please communicate your intent to graduate to your instructor. This will alert your instructor to the need to submit your final grade in time to meet the published graduation deadlines. For more information about graduation policies and deadlines, please see "Graduation" under World Campus Student Resources.

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Technical Requirements

This course is offered online and it is assumed you possess the minimum system requirements and computing skills to participate effectively. A list of technical requirements is listed on World Campus' Penn State Technical Requirements page.

Minimum Skills

  • You should have an understanding of basic computer usage (creating folders/directories, switching between programs, formatting and backing up media, accessing the internet).
  • You must be able to conduct word processing tasks such as creating, editing, saving, and retrieving documents.
  • You must be able to use a web browser to open web pages, download files, and search the internet.
  • You must be able to use an e-mail program to send and receive messages and to attach and download documents/files.
  • You must be able to download and install programs or plug-ins from the internet.

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Subject to Change Statement

Please note that this Course Syllabus is subject to change. Students are responsible for abiding by such changes.

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