Food Safety: It’s the Law! 5 Key Points of FSMA

See how the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has revolutionized the food safety industry and learn the importance of food safety technology.

The Food Safety Modernization Act was passed by Congress and signed into law on January 4, 2011. The passing of FSMA marked the first major food safety change since 1938 and signaled major industry change – but for the better.

One of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) main goals is to ensure our country’s food supply is safe for the general public. The group provides guidelines and restrictions to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks, criminal and/or terrorist attacks on our food supply, labeling and packaging errors and more. The FSMA is one part of the FDA’s strategies to help ensure food safety. Below are five major points from the FSMA and their role in keeping the public safe today.

1) Prevention

The biggest change the FSMA brought to food safety is a focus on preventing food contamination. In the past, food safety guidelines mainly focused on responding to outbreaks. Obviously, this change makes sense. Why deal with potentially deadly issues when you can easily prevent them with a step-by-step process?

The FSMA explains that all food handlers will be given updated guidelines every two years. This ensures new food safety technology will continue to be developed in order to create a safer food industry. While all food handlers and producers have their own preventative methods in place, the FSMA allows the FDA to implement national standards that all businesses must follow – from the farmer, to the distributor, to the seller.

Major prevention controls include:

2) Inspection

Before the FSMA, food facilities were only required to pass inspection every 10 years!

Now, high-risk food facilities are forced to pass an inspection every three years. Also, the FDA reserves the right to inspect any food handling location if they have a reasonable or probable suspicion that a hazard is present. This could result from a number of reasons:

  • An outbreak in your industry
  • A link in your supply chain has been contaminated – like production, packaging, or shipping
  • Seasonal changes that could affect your product

3) Imported Food

The FSMA calls for stricter requirements and guidelines when it comes to foreign, imported foods. Holding outside food producers and handlers responsible is a major point of the FSMA. One way the FDA can accurately monitor out-of-country importers is through the Foreign Supplier Verification Program. Not only do importers have to meet all regulations through this program, but must also keep accurate records of their certifications, critical control points, food safety technology implementation and more.

When the FSMA was first introduced, the FDA saw backlash from foreign food importers. They felt they were being targeted and accused of intentionally harming our nation’s food supply. The FDA, naturally, denied those claims and stated guidelines were simply put in place to safely monitor and track all imported food, since different countries have different food safety regulations. In a way, the FSMA is improving food safety globally.

4) Partnerships and Cooperation

In order to maintain a global standard of food safety, the FSMA calls for both domestic and foreign partnerships and cooperation. The FDA, through a budget increase to hire more staff, was required to open five international offices in countries that export food to the United States. These offices help manage the Foreign Supplier Verification Program explained above, along with other efforts to maintain that food is safe throughout every step of the supply chain.

The FDA does not intend to fully control all aspects of food safety throughout the U.S. and the world. Instead, the administration offers training, seminars, workshops and more to spread knowledge about food safety. In fact, the FDA doesn’t even conduct most of the inspections or certifications – they rely on outside inspectors and food safety agencies.

5) Food Safety Technology

One way to easily adhere to and follow FSMA regulations is through advanced food safety technology. Not only is new technology more accurate, but it allows impressive data storage in the cloud for easy record keeping. Inspections go much smoother when everything is organized, and food safety technology does just that. Temperature, a major contributor to foodborne illness, can be checked and recorded using temperature monitoring devices.

The FSMA requires food handlers to have a Food Safety Plan that meets HACCP guidelines. Rather than risk potential manual errors such as data entry, miscalculation, misreading or more, achieve proper food safety prevention with today’s modern technology!

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