Each year, approximately 48 million Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and as many as 3,000 die as the result of foodborne diseases. To better protect consumers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has brought sweeping reforms to the country’s food safety laws under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Signed into law in 2011 and going into full effect in 2016, the FSMA requires American food and beverage producers to be more proactive in preventing foodborne illness and outbreaks.
Here are five ways full implementation of the FSMA will affect the food and beverage industry.
- Documentation of preventive measures. All food and beverage producers will be required to implement written preventive control plans to evaluate potential hazards at their operations. They must also specify a course of action to significantly minimize or eliminate those risks.
- Tighter inspection and compliance standards. The FSMA broadens the FDA’s inspection powers, including a mandated inspection frequency based on risk assessment. Higher-risk operations will be inspected within five years of enactment and every three years thereafter.
- Mandatory recalls. Until now, food and beverage recalls have been voluntary. Under the FSMA, the FDA will have mandatory food recall authority and expanded power to detain products that pose a potential threat. The act also authorizes the suspension of food facility registrations.
- Increased interagency collaboration. The FSMA mandates that all agencies involved with food safety at the federal, state, local territorial, tribal and foreign levels do a better job of working together. Toward that goal, the FDA will improve training of regulatory workers within nonfederal agencies.
- Stricter screening for food imports. The FDA wants foreign suppliers to comply with rules and regulations as stringent as those faced by U.S. food producers. To achieve this, the FDA will accredit third-party auditors to certify that foreign food facilities are in FSMA compliance. If you’re a food importer, you’ll be expected to verify that your foreign suppliers have adequate preventive controls in place.
Food and beverage producers that utilize co-packers should ensure that each co-packer is in compliance with the food safety standards implemented by the FSMA. To learn more, contact us with your questions.
As Manager at Wiss & Company LLP, Arnold Macalintal provides business advisory services for the Food & Beverage industry.