When the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) became law, it was a game changer for companies throughout the food system. These changes will have a particularly profound effect on those that are involved with the final steps in food production before it reaches the consumer. The new regulations ensure food safety is no longer just a good idea, but also a law enforced by the federal government with full authority given to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

According to the FDA, ensuring that food reaching American dinner plates is safe is the focus and responsibility of the food system itself. But before the food ever reaches the supply chain, FSMA regulations will force companies producing the food to analyze, prepare for and execute a food safety plan, which is just another important aspect of the food production process. On top of that, the compliance can be complicated with new processes and extensive paperwork. That makes planning, ongoing observations and employee training critical to compliance within this new act.

With the FSMA compliance deadline approaching, there are some key considerations for everyone in the food system to be prepared for:

  • Employee Training. The team tasked with carrying out FSMA will be pivotal to success within a food production facility. Employees must be trained at implementation of new processes and on an ongoing basis to ensure all steps are followed. Specifically related to sanitation, employees must be well versed in all cleaning processes throughout your facility to remain compliant with the new guidelines.
  • Hazard and Risk-based Controls. In each facility the team must identify potential hazards and install effective controls to minimize risk. Process, food allergy and sanitation controls must all be considered in these processes.
  • Monitoring. You must make sure full documentation is available to show practices have been implemented and monitored. Finding a way to effectively and consistently capture this information—and plan ahead for a potential correction—is an important piece of FSMA success. In your plant this may mean developing new standard operating procedures for capturing and documenting important information.
  • Verification. This verification needs to show the controls in place are effective and process monitoring is being conducted. Be able to provide validation through documentation that cleaning procedures are effective.
  • Audit Ready. Random, unannounced inspections can take place at any time, so being audit ready every day is a must. FSMA is an ongoing process that must be maintained, not prepared for.

While all of these new changes must be implemented, they are in addition to your core responsibilities of efficiently producing a high quality food product. In many cases contracting with third-party resources that specialize in meeting FSMA regulations can ease the compliance burden. Even for those who have been meeting or exceeding FSMA regulations before they go into effect, compliance will require a dedicated team with a specialized skill set to ensure that regulations are closely followed and documentation appropriately completed.  NP

For more information, visit www.pssi.co.