Nearly 1 in 6 Americans (48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year from foodborne diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken action with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
The Act makes huge changes to U.S. food safety laws hoping to prevent problems before they become a problem by primarily focusing on:
- Imported food safety
- Produce safety
- Third-party laboratory testing
- Farm-to-table responsibility
- Mandated inspections on a risk-based schedule
- Requirement of third party certification for high-risk operations
Although the FSMA was signed into law by President Obama in 2011, the FDA will fully implment the law over time. But don’t wait. Start preparing your business and employees now:
- Prepare a written Food Safety Plan, then identify, train, and qualify an experienced individual to be responsible for the Plan.
- Identify and evaluate the hazards that could affect food that is processed, manufactured, packed, or stored in your facility (even if you are importing food from foreign suppliers), such as:
- Unapproved food and color additives
- Biological, chemical, radiological, and physical hazards
- Natural toxins
- Drug residues
- Establish and implement preventive measures to prevent the occurrence of such hazards and provide assurances that the food you make is not contaminated.
- Monitor and maintain records of the performance of those recognized measures, for at least two years.
By establishing and implementing these steps, you may not have many changes to make once the final rules are published.
Not sure if what you’re doing is right? The American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) developed an online tool to help frozen food facilities assess their readiness to the new rules. The online tool is available to AFFI members for $45 per facility and to non-members for $395 per facility. If you qualify, visit http://www.affi.org/member-services/fsma-self-assessment-tool to take the test.
Of course the FDA’s website has all the information you need about the new law, rules and regulations. Visit http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/default.htm for the latest developments and to sign up for their FSMA E-mail updates.