I recall having to sit through a lecture several years ago and listen to the 5th (U.S.) subcommittee hearing on the safety of the nation’s food supply. This hearing came after a string of product recalls and various foodborne illness outbreaks, and prior to even more. For the first time in decades, Botulism was found in canned vegetables that were introduced into commerce. The first major peanut butter recall rocked the industry. There was a trickle of blood in the water, and the media sharks smelled it from miles away and they weren’t about to let the opportunity get swept under the rug. I remember that the underlying theme of the hearing back then was that our national food safety system was broken. The government then took it upon themselves to develop the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)
The Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011, and today we are, for the most part,waiting for the FDA’s proposed rules, comment periods, re-writes, etc., etc..The looming changes, however, are nonetheless looming.
The FDA has typically operated in a “reactive” approach towards food safety. The new legislation contained in the new FSMA proposed rules will modernize the FDA’s new focus of a more practical and successful“proactive” approach to food safety. In addition to the previously mentioned authority, the FDA will be implementing the hazard analysis and preventive controls section of FSMA requiring manufacturers to implement food safety plans which include hazard analyses, preventive controls plan, monitoring procedures,corrective actions, verification activities, and recall plans. As an aside, ifyou haven’t already become a HACCP expert, now might be a good time to become one…
FSMA is marketed in two main areas (Food Safety and FoodDefense) consisting of four basic titles:
· Prevention (of food safety hazards)
· Detection and Response (to food safety problems)
· Improvement (of the food safety of imported foods)
Ultimately, the FSMA will be a new set of requirements that may, at times, be difficult for the local manufacturer to unpack, and it is the intention of this forum to provide communication between relevant parties as rules are proposed and subsequently implemented. I’m looking forward to future activity and working along with you as FSMA rolls out. As food manufacturers,we have to make the determination whether to start assimilating to the changes, or wait until they finally pull the trigger on them individually.