Sandia Labs News Releases

Online computer program aids food producers in assessing vulnerabilities

Individual farmers can play roles in national defense, says Sandia researcher

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An online computer program that Sandia National Laboratories helped develop two years ago to protect the entire U.S. food manufacturing industry — from field to retail or food services — has been extended for use by farmers and food producers.

The idea is to make step-by-step tools available to assess and mitigate vulnerabilities in food production processes, said Sandia principal investigator Phil Pohl. “Every U.S. farmer can help in this effort merely by clicking the online program and taking the steps suggested there,” said Pohl.

The tool, called Agriculture CARVER + Shock, was field-tested in Lancaster, Pa., and Baltimore, Md., on actual potential users and is supported by the U.S. Drug Administration and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said Pohl.

The program asks food producers a series of questions about each component of their production process. Based on the responses, Ag CARVER provides scores for those components and recommends specific risk mitigation measures. These might include upgrades or enhancements to physical security or process operations, or a change in personnel practices. Information entered by the program user is not recorded by either the FDA or USDA.

The software is free and available to the public at

While this particular program is designed primarily for harvest and preharvest food production operations, “We’ll update the 2007 manufacturing version over the next few months and have plans to produce the retail and food service version next year,” said Pohl.

Sandia National Laboratories is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Sandia news media contact: Neal Singer, (505) 845-7078