or break you.
As ag entities, get to know your FBI WMD [weapons of mass destruction] coordinator and develop relationships with your fusion center. Fusion centers are state-owned and -operated centers that serve as focal points in states and major urban
areas for the receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing of threat-related information
between state, local, tribal and territorial, federal, and private sector partners.
Get to know the all-hazards command staff for the event; food defense UC was
at the state operations center with these staff members, and it helped broaden the
knowledge of these capabilities and the applicability to the overall response. It also
allowed us to share intel and/or provide information sharing that may impact our
operational activities in the field in a timely manner to staff.
FSM: What would you change if you had it to do over again?
TB: Very little. There was so much preparation in terms of groundwork a year or
two ahead of Super Bowl LIII with GDA and their RRT, which made this event run
smoothly. The roles were well-defined and understood by all of the federal and local
government agencies involved.
LM: For our dining halls, nothing really; we are used to adapting to changing
For catering, the space we first planned to use wasn’t sufficient to accommodate
our team. We’d get our crews together further in advance. We lucked out a lot with
staffing, but I believe the headaches could’ve been avoided if we had consistent
teams. Also, I would reach out to the caterer that provided services to the Super
Bowl the previous year and ask them what they did and what they would change.
VS: Start our planning efforts even earlier than a year in advance. It would have
been helpful if food safety and food defense staffers could have participated in the
site visits of other states’ Super Bowl preparations to see how they incorporated their
planning efforts and be able to discuss more one-on-one. All other players participated and had this time; however, the food component was overlooked and is such
an integral part of the overall Super Bowl experience.
Additionally, I would have engaged with representatives of MBS sooner in our
planning efforts. We touched the other site contacts, but having engaged dialogue
on the food defense needs and requirements with MBS would have benefited both
sides by occurring sooner than later in the planning timeline.
FSM: How important were your relationships with the other groups involved (
foodservice, agencies, industry) to the success of the event from a food safety perspective?
TB: Building trust is key in a working relationship. Without trust between the
many organizations involved in an event such as this, very little can be accomplished smoothly, if at all. All of the time invested well in advance of Super Bowl
LIII was well worth the investment, as evident by the success achieved toward protecting the food supply intended for tens of thousands of people.
LM: For our dining halls, it was extremely important. There were some areas we
didn’t typically deal with that they were able to advise us on. For example, we typi-
cally keep our chemicals separated from food but not always locked up. USDA was
able to give us insight into why it’s ex-
tremely important to keep them locked
For catering, “important” is an understatement. Everyone was dealing
with the same requirements. Vendors in
Atlanta needed to deliver our food first
because we needed to break the seal.
Vendors had to accommodate our food
needs and those of hotels in the area
catering to the teams and others involved with the event. So everyone was
extremely busy and stretched thin to
pull off such a feat. USDA and health
department visits were extremely educational, and they were more than happy
to walk us through the process for each
visit. Building positive relationships
with vendors around the city helped
make the event successful.
VS: Relationships are everything,
especially in food defense. It impacts
information sharing, timeliness of intel
and information sharing, and response
capabilities. I am proud and grateful for
the relationships and training efforts
we have in Georgia. The successful integration of food defense activities and
operational capabilities during Super
Bowl LIII was largely [due] in part to
the relationships we have with Georgia
Emergency Management and Homeland Security, City of Atlanta, Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management
Agency, GA RRT members, GWCC,
and industry reps. I will say that these
relationships were validated and
strengthened during this special event.
I am extremely grateful to our partners at Fulton County Board of Health,
USDA-FSIS, and FERN; without their
support and coordination with GDA,
this food defense operation would not
have been possible.
Our engagement with our law enforcement family is strong in Georgia.
These partnerships and open support
of agriculture and food defense make
our state and nation safer and better
prepared to respond and recover. We
routinely communicate, plan, and train
together. We have contacts in place at
the local, state, and federal levels that
allow for swift and timely communica-
“...we had to step back and punt, so to speak,
to ensure we more completely encompassed
interagency communications, sampling, and
laboratory coordination for special events...”