FSMA: What's Your Plan?

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FSMA: What's Your Plan?

By Hilary Thesmar, PhD, RD, CFS, Vice President, Food Safety Programs, FMI - 01/20/2016

For the first time, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report on the global burden of foodborne diseases, including startling statistics that 30 percent of all deaths from foodborne diseases are in children under the age of 5, with 125,000 dying each year; 600 million people get sick each year from foodborne illness, which is 1 in 10 people.1

Food safety remains a priority for our industry, and major foodborne illness outbreaks plaguing the media headlines have served as ominous reminders to maintain vigilance. I frequently speak with reporters about how our grocery members are encouraging a culture of food safety within their companies, which is truly the only pathway to fully embrace the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The rules have been coming for years, but reality has set in for food retailers and wholesalers that have central kitchens, distribution centers, truck fleets and/or imported products that need to be compliant under the law.

WHO's December assessment served as an urgent reality check to define, implement and execute a plan to comply with the FSMA. Given the shifts in liability and a desire among FMI's members to take practical steps to implement the law, FMI has drafted a food safety plan for distribution centers. The purpose of this food safety plan is to assist FMI members with compliance in warehouses and distribution centers with the FMSA Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Control for Human Food rules. FMI will continue to educate the industry on riskbased management controls and set up systems for recordkeeping and selfassessments

One of the FSMA rules applies to foreign supplier verification, which impacts anyone importing products into the U.S. In the Final Rule, the FDA specified that U.S. companies can rely on a third party to do the foreign supplier verification. This does not appear to change the role of the importer, but allows the foreign supplier verification to be outsourced to a qualified third party. Food retailers still need to ensure that the third party is doing its job in order to ensure consumer confidence. Every receiver of foreign ingredients is required to implement FSMA, which offers great promise to our division, the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI), within context of global food safety planning.

Recently, SQFI contracted with the Acheson Group to compare the elements of SQF Level 2 Certification to the Food and Drug Administration's FSMA Preventive Controls for Human and Animal Food Final Rule requirements. The analysis examined the two major aspects of the Final Rule: the new preventive controls requirements that industry must comply with in order to implement Section 103 of FSMA; and the updated current Good Manufacturing Practices. As the food industry looks to protect consumers, customers, and their brand as well as successfully be compliant with the final FSMA rules, the Acheson Group's analysis indicates that being SQF-Level-2 certified is a robust, strong advantage to fulfilling FSMA requirements

FMI's Center for Retail Food Safety and Defense remains an end-to-end solution in the supply chain, offering guidance and tools related to recall notification and track-and-trace. The expenses related to recalls and food safety crises are growing —specifically with regard to allergens, listeria and salmonella —but the costs to a business' reputation are priceless.

Need to Assess your FSMA Plan?

For FMI FSMA analysis and resources, visit www.FMI.org/foodsafety

The Safe Quality Food Institute, a division of FMI, is recognized by retailers and foodservice providers around the world who require a rigorous, credible food safety management system. www.SQFI.com

ReposiTrak helps retailers and suppliers manage regulatory, financial and brand risk associated with issues of food safety in the global food supply chain. http://repositrak.com/

1 World Health Organization, "WHO Estimates of the Global Burden of Foodborne Diseases," December 2015. http://www.who.int/foodsafety/areas_work/foodborne-diseases/ferg/en/