State officials' perceptions of the food and agriculture sector criticality assessment tool (FASCAT), food-system risk, and food defense funding

Andrew G. Huff, Amy Kircher, James S. Hodges, Shaun Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Determining food system criticality is necessary to mitigate risks to the nation's food supply and prioritize and allocate funding. The Food and Agriculture Sector Criticality Assessment Tool (FASCAT) is a tool used broadly by state governments to determine the criticality of food systems throughout the US State officials (SOs) responsible for food defense (n = 32) were surveyed to determine whether FASCAT is of value to food defense and to determine SOs' security beliefs, values, and practices related to food defense. Results indicated that: (1) SOs believe FASCAT is easier to use than other forms of risk assessment; (2) FASCAT training may have introduced bias into assessment of probability, threat, vulnerability, and consequences; (3) FASCAT is valuable to SOs; (4) SOs do not routinely follow security management best practices; (5) SOs believe that intentional biological threats to the food system are the most probable threats, though without supporting evidence; and (6) SOs believe food defense risk mitigation is not adequately funded by state or federal governments. These findings indicate that even though bias was potentially introduced to FASCAT assessments, SOs believe FASCAT has been useful to them in determining food system criticality. SOs indicate that more funding is needed from state and federal governments to adequately mitigate and manage food defense risks, and that they require more comprehensive training from food defense subject matter experts in threat assessment, risk mitigation, and security management to reduce the possibility of bias from FASCAT training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-116
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Security management and food defense research and practice often require funding from the US government. Accordingly, the government has invested many millions of dollars in food defense initiatives. To have an effective food defense strategy, resources are required for private and public sector food defense education and to develop risk mitigation technologies and deploy them to private food companies and state governments. With large amounts of money appropriated to federal agencies for food defense, it is imperative to determine if investments in critical infrastructures were appropriately allocated. This study examines the usability and value of one software tool, the Food and Agriculture Systems Criticality Assessment Tool (FASCAT) by studying SOs and potential biases introduced during FASCAT training and use.

Copyright 2014 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Cognitive bias
  • Criticality assessment
  • Food defense funding
  • Resource allocation
  • Risk perception


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