If you’re like most food safety professionals, you first heard about the Food Safety Modernization Act when President Obama signed it into law in 2011. Five years later, the first FSMA compliance deadline is only months away and many businesses are still scrambling. What will FSMA look like for our company? What do you need to do before the first compliance deadline in September 2016? And, most importantly, how will FSMA impact your organization?
Today, we’re going to take a look at the five things you need to understand now to better prepare for upcoming FSMA implementation.
1. FSMA IMPACTS Every Level of the FOOD Supply Chain
Whether you’re a restaurant, a retailer, a supplier, a distributor or a grower, FSMA will affect you regardless of whether you are legally required to comply with the law. The law gives the FDA even more regulatory and enforcement power than ever before. However, the law itself is especially significant for FDA-registered facilities, especially growers and food manufacturers. And while the legislation does not apply directly to restaurants and retailers, they will feel the impact if their suppliers are not FSMA compliant.
2. FSMA Was Created to Shift the Industry from Reactive to Preventive
After decades of foodborne illness outbreaks, and an average of 3,000 people dying from foodborne diseases every year, one thing became abundantly clear: Responding to recalls and contaminations is not enough. To keep consumers safe, the industry needed to shift its focus from reactive to preventive. The objective of FSMA is to ensure every link along the food supply chain is taking every possible precaution and measure to prevent a food safety issue.
3. The FIRST 2016 Deadline is Not for Everyone
This September marks the first FSMA compliance deadline, or the date by which businesses must comply with the preventive controls put in place by the FDA for human food. But this deadline only affects larger businesses; other businesses have later deadlines. Here is the breakdown:
September 2016: Companies with more than 500 full-time employees
September 2017: Companies with fewer than 500 employees
September 2018: Companies with less than $1 million in average annual sales
4. FSMA Requires Mandated Inspections and Testing
Two of the most important stipulations of FSMA are the mandated inspections and food testing. The frequency of the mandated inspections is determined by risk, and risk is determined by the FDA. All “high-risk” domestic facilities will be inspected within five years from FSMA’s enactment, and every three years after.
Additionally, the FDA will require certain foods to be regularly tested by accredited laboratories.
FSMA also grants the FDA mandatory recall authority. That means, if a company fails to voluntarily recall an unsafe product, the FDA has the power to issue a mandatory recall. Additionally, the FDA can shut down a facility if a product poses a food safety threat.
5. Tracing Your Supply Chain is the Best Measure You Can Take
The organizations that are most likely to be negatively affected by FSMA are those that do not have full visibility across their supply chain. By gaining better visibility into the organizations you’re working with, and making sure they’re also taking all necessary food safety precautions, you can reduce your risk of a food safety recall and be prepared for the FDA.