Food makers are concerned that their inclusion under the law as a "chemical plant" isunnecessary and would be costly.
Their case is not being helped by a press release issued by the American Association of MeatProcessors, which has issued a warning to its members about a spate of ammonia thefts from plants byillegal drug makers.
On October 4, President George Bush signed into law the 2007 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations Act, which contains a provision requiringthe agency to issue regulations aimed at improving security at chemical plants.
"Since many food and dairy processing facilities use anhydrous ammonia in their refrigeration systems, they have been considered chemical plants, especially in previous congressional attempts to regulate chemicalsecurity," the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) noted in commenting on therequirement.
The IDFA said it worked with a coalition of food industry groups in conjunction with the chemical industry to promote language in the final bill that limits the focus to "high risk" facilities.
"Although dairy facilities would not likely be considered "high risk" operations, the law gives the DHS Secretary broad discretion for deciding what types of facilities fall into thiscategory," the IDFA stated. "Over the next six months, IDFA will work with DHS to ensure that the dairy processing industry is not unnecessarily swept into the scope of the forthcoming regulations."
A floor statement on the bill last month from Senator Larry Craig, a Republican from Idaho, helped to clarify the provision and its anticipated effect on dairyfacilities, the IDFA noted.
"Clearly, there is substantial interest in ensuring the security of our nation's chemical infrastructure, while not forcing onerous and duplicative regulations on one of our most important foodindustries," Craig is reported to have said.
In other news the the American Association of Meat Processors reported in its September 15, 2006 newsletterabout a series of thefts of anhydrous ammonia from meat processing plants. Ammonia is a key ingredientused in the making meth and other hallucinatory drugs.
AAMP president, Steve Krut, said in the newsletter that many processors already lock tanks and supply systems, but that hasn't deterred thethieves, according to a report by Meat Processing magazine.
Kurt stated that at least one plant is considering installing steel bars and plating around its storage and piping system, but there is some concern that the thieves will try to drill through the plating.However such action could cause an explosion.