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What is FSMA? A Quick Reference Guide

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What is FSMA? A Quick Reference Guide

October 20, 2015
By Ken Briodagh
Editorial Director

The safety of the food supply is pretty much the most important thing, not just to consumers (everyone), but to the professionals in the farming, trucking and other supply chain industries bringing those tasty treats from farm to table. The U.S. government and the FDA agree, and they’ve established the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to ensure that the food supply chain stays safe.

FSMA was signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 4, 2011. The stated aim of the bill as passed was to shift federal regulators’ away from defensive responding to contamination to being more active in preventing possible problems before they occur. To meet that goal, the bill expands the regulative authority of the FDA to allow it to monitor and track growth, harvest, processing and transportation of food products for humans.

One way in which it is expected that the subject industries will meet the new compliance standards will be through IoT technologies for tracking and monitoring the food products to make sure they stay within required ranges.

Some of the new FDA powers include mandatory recall authority, which allows the agency to perform recalls on products, with or without the agreement of producers and processors, if a problem or contamination is detected or suspected. The FDA will also have tools focused on prevention, including requiring the installation of preventive-based controls across the food supply chain.

Under the new law, food facilities have to develop written preventive control plans that include an assessment of any factors that could affect food safety, an outline of specific preventive controls that will be put in place to address those factors, a plan for monitoring controls to make sure they’re working, good records keeping and an action plan for correcting problems as they come up.

The FSMA requires that the FDA perform regular, and more frequent, inspections of subject facilities, with the schedule determined based on the risk at hand. All facilities that are determined to be “high-risk” have to be inspected within 5 years and every three years thereafter and found to be in compliance. The law also sends the FDA into foreign companies that ship food into the U.S., and it must inspect at least 600 of them within one year of enactment and double that number every year for the next five years.

That’s a lot to handle, and a lot of changes happening fast, but don’t worry because is here to help. 

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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