It’s a brand new year, the holidays are over, and everyone has just about settled back into the frenzy. So, food packagers—are you prepared for the Food Safety Modernization Act?
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA, or ‘fizzmah’ as you might have heard it mentioned) is intended to give the U.S. Food & Drug Administration increased oversight over food products entering the U.S. each year in order to prevent foodborne illness, which affects 48 million Americans each year. The act contains several new provisions and requirements, including increased inspections, suspensions and detentions of food products and/or facility operations based on suspected adulterations, stringent performance and reporting standards, increased security requirements, and increased product testing—even for co-packaging facilities. Various regulations are already in effect, and many more will come on line this year.
Where do food packagers and plant operators begin to assure that they’re in compliance and ahead of the game, you ask? Here are some helpful action items to check off the list, if you’re not already doing them:
- Develop and implement a Food Safety Plan.
Create a HAACP (hazard analysis critical control points) plan covering all food safety issues, ingredients, and packaging.
- Have your product and environmental testing regimens clearly delineated.
Ensure all in-coming ingredients undergo in-processing testing and/or finished goods testing—even if you’re solely a co-packer.
- Implement corrective actions when needed and document these actions.
Run a root cause analysis on all incidents and ensure that actions taken are documented.
- Develop and implement a program to verify suppliers.
Require a Certificate of Analysis (C of A) and take steps to ensure suppliers provide products that are safe and in accordance with FDA regulations.
- Develop and implement a Food Defense Plan.
Identify and evaluate hazards that may be intentionally introduced, and take preventative measures such as involving a security presence at your plant.