Protecting America's Health & Beauty Products From Bioterrorism

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While most Americans are more worried about bombs than contaminated shampoo, experts agree the biggest threat to homeland safety looms within the food, medicine, and cosmetic industries. One manufacturer is now calling on the health and beauty industry to invoke tighter security measures against potential acts of bioterrorism before it's too late.

While America's reputation as the "Evil Giant" persists with radicals around the world, most Americans understand the United States is more of a target than ever. In fact, many national security experts admit we are less safe today than in 2001.

Thanks to America's new found awareness and complicated infrastructure, it's incredibly hard for terrorists to attack the way they did in 2001. Today's terrorists realize that another attack on the scale of "911" would be nearly impossible, but there are many other ways for terrorists to attack large groups of Americans with little effort.

According to anti-terrorism experts, one way to attack the American public would be through the deliberate spread of communicable diseases or poisons in consumable products. The Anthrax attacks of 2001 proved that one person (or a small group of people) could scare an entire nation. Experts are quick to point out the Anthrax attacks were poorly planned, and designed only to target small groups of people, but imagine if the right virus was secretly introduced into one of America's popular consumable products such as cereal or orange juice?

While the "Bioterrorism Act" of 2002 has forced many important changes aimed at protecting our food and medicine supplies from attack, there is little mention of the health and beauty products used by millions of Americans everyday.

According to Wayne Perry, president of SiCap Industries (a natural pharmaceutical manufacturer), health & beauty products may be at a higher risk than food. Perry's company is famous for creating the world's first hot pepper nasal spray known as "Sinus Buster," and along with manufacturing innovative products, SiCap is also intent on protecting those products from acts of bioterrorism.

"The food industry already has checks and balances for controlling outbreaks, but there are thousands of health and cosmetic products made by small and large companies that have extensive distribution with little security. Many manufacturers are lacking in proper record keeping and pre-screening of employees. This presents a real weakness in the system that any savvy terrorist could easily take advantage of. Manufacturers need to start thinking beyond the tamper resistant packing, and concentrate more on protecting the products as they're being made. One unscrupulous employee could potentially poison thousands of people by simply introducing toxins into something as innocent as shampoo," says Perry.

In 2003, the U. S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) began tightening security measures to protect food and medicine products. The Official FDA Website prominently addresses Bioterrorism, and the potential of covert attacks on America's food and medicine supplies. Yet according to Wayne Perry, the cosmetic and dietary supplement industries aren't held to quite the same standards as food and medicine.

"Our company is small by most standards, and we ship out thousands of health and beauty products every month. Now think of a giant manufacturer producing everything from hair spray to sun tan oil. If it's tough to keep track of twenty employees, imagine when you're dealing with twenty thousand? It's not just about drug screening and employee theft anymore. Manufacturers have to screen for potential bioterrorists. We screen our employees so carefully nowadays, and we gear part of that screening process toward weeding out potential terrorists. Manufacturers of consumable products have to be extra careful about who they hire, and who has access to their products as they're being manufactured".

While the Bioterrorism Act covers many potential threats looming over consumable products, SiCap industries is calling for tougher rules concerning cosmetics and dietary supplements along with expanding ways for self-policing of manufacturers.

"All the manufacturers need to join together to close the security gaps concerning health and beauty products. If we get enough response from other manufacturers, we're hoping to start a coalition of companies to work together at better securing the industry. Right from the raw materials used in manufacturing to the distributors putting the products on the shelves. It's important for consumers to have total confidence that the products they count on everyday are and will always be safe. Manufacturers need to act now before something bad happens. It's all about prevention," adds Perry.


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