If you’re in a food-based business, you know how important food safety is. Foodborne illnesses cost businesses over $75 billion each year. In the past, companies had to navigate food safety laws that were different in every state. To keep foods safer and to make it easier for companies that do interstate business, the Food and Drug Administration created a set of nationwide rules.
What is the FSMA?
Widespread outbreaks of Listeria, E. coli and Salmonella cost the food industry billions, negatively affected public health and harmed consumers’ trust in many brands. After the series of high-profile foodborne illnesses in the early 2000s, the FDA revisited food safety regulations, which had not been updated since 1938. It was decided that rules going forward would have to be proactive so that outbreaks could be prevented. The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law on January 4 of 2011.
How do new developments affect food businesses?
The first set of rules in the FSMA are due on August 30. Further rules are still being developed and should be finalized in 2016. Rules that are still being worked on are open for comment up to 75 days after they’ve been published.
Under the new and upcoming rules, there is a greater emphasis on inspections and record-keeping. Producers are expected to self-monitor and keep assiduous records to ensure that their operations are safe and effective at preventing foodborne illnesses.
Companies are reminded to use the 4As approach. This four-step policy can help create a food defense strategy that will make it easier for you to stay up to date and compliant with current rules.
Start by assessing the risks throughout your supply chain. Where are you vulnerable? At this step, you determine what needs to be monitored to keep adulterants from entering your supply chain.
Think about who has access to the critical control points in the food side of your business. Make sure that outside vendors, visitors, and other untrained people have only limited access. This way, you have a better idea of who is allowed in sensitive areas.
If there is an issue, do you have a system set up so that everyone knows whom to alert? By setting up a chain of command where people can report any issues that they observe, you can respond to any possible issues far more quickly. This means that you can keep up with problems in your facility before they become food safety issues for the public.
Regularly audit your systems to make sure that everything is operating as it should. By keeping up your own oversight, you can make outside inspections go much more smoothly and prevent the sorts of problems that necessitated the FSMA in the first place.
The laws are still being developed and final versions are on their way. To keep up with the new developments, keep reading industry news to find out what the current rules are and how they affect your specific business. By keeping up with best practices, you can better assure future compliance, meaning that you have fewer headaches going forward and customers can be more confident.