The FSMA, or Food Safety Modernization Act, was signed into law by the President in January 2011, with the intent of granting the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) additional power to monitor and police food companies as a means of improving detection and response if an outbreak were to occur.
With increased concerns about food-borne illnesses, allergens/allergies, contamination and even terrorist threats, it’s more important now than ever for policies to be in place that will protect the public and prevent both real and potential health scares.
The FSMA looks at four key areas of improving food safety: prevention, inspection and compliance, response and imports. These components will give the FDA the power to implement mandatory preventive controls, recalls, safety standards and inspection frequency. Some of the improvements will include: enhanced product tracking, improved record keeping, third party certification for imports, testing by accredited laboratories and the authority to prevent international contamination.
The big question now is: Can a company’s supply chain handle these responsibilities placed upon it by the FSMA? It’s not enough anymore to provide the real-time record that documents the end-to-end chain of custody.
There needs to be total visibility across the entire network, and quality assurance must be monitored up and down the supply chain in the event of a recall, which can cost a company millions upon millions of dollars.
Now that the focus on food safety is more about prevention than reaction, supply chain managers need to look carefully at their strategies and solutions. The following guidelines are helpful during the process of making sure the correct food safety measures are in place:
- Locate the critical control points in the company’s facilities that may be vulnerable to food adulterations. These critical control areas, as identified by the FDA, may include shipping and receiving, laboratories, raw materials, chemical and hazardous storage facilities and processing.
- Assess the current access control measures that are currently in place. Consider authorized vs. non-authorized personnel, suppliers, visitors, contractors and anyone else connected to the process.
- Examine the organization’s capability in terms of providing continuous monitoring of goods as they extend through the supply chain. Establish ways to prevent intentional incidents of food adulteration.
- Ensure that the company’s audit processes are reliable and consistent with corporate operational and regulatory standards in relation to implementing proper food defense practices.
The FSMA is crucial to making sure that FDA will continue to look at ways to carry out these improvements in food safety and legislation. This major change in American food safety, with its emphasis on prevention, is expected to positively and dramatically affect our nation’s food supply.
As part of the bigger picture, successful and compliant supply chain management must be sure to provide the transparency, exact traceability and personnel authorization that will allow their company to meet the compliancy standards of the FSMA. This new system of food safety oversight is yet another step towards preventing the problems that, simply put, are making too many people unnecessarily sick.
Pete Kontakos is a writer for Michigan State University’s Supply Chain Management Online Certification Programs. Please visit MSU Online at http://www.michiganstateuniversityonline.com/.