FDA is Catching up to USDA in Food Safety

The Food Safety Modernization Act Helps in the Creation and Improvement of HACCP Programs

In light of the most recent global food safety issues around the globe, it seems that the FDA is finally catching up to the USDA.  That is, at least in terms of requirements for food manufacturers and processors.  Through the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011, the FDA will now begin to require many of the industries that it oversees to utilize a HACCP based program with a twist.  Seafood and juice manufacturers have been required to follow the HACCP guidelines for several years, now other industries will be subject to these rules.  But, the FDA has taken the best of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) program and made it better.

The important point of such programs is to have a “systematic approach to food safety that attempts to minimize the risk of pathogens, allergens or other contaminants.”   Fortunately, many organizations already follow these types of programs and have procedures in place due to customer demand from grocery retailers and/or restaurants.  Many of these facilities will need to make changes to their current plans to better align with the FDA’s program, but most will be able to easily implement these upgrades.

Food Safety and FSMA

According to the FDA, there are two major improvements.  This includes:

  • Implementation of hazard analysis and risk-based controls
  • Revisions to the current Good Manufacturing Procedures (cGMP).

The first, the required implementation of hazard analysis and risk-based controls focuses on ensuring facilities understand where the potential risks are with their processes and creating preventative controls designed to eliminate or reduce potential risks for foodborne pathogens.  As consumers, we are in need of a more modern food safety system that we can rely on to prevent illness from occurring, not simply reacting when something goes wrong.   The new regulation will require organizations to have a plan that includes the following:

  • Hazard Analysis
  • Preventative Controls
  • Monitoring
  • Corrective Actions
  • Verification
  • Record Keeping

For those of you familiar with food safety management systems, you will recognize many of the common elements.  The other element calls for revisions of the cGMPs to clarify that certain existing cGMP provisions that require protection against contamination of food also require protection against cross-contact of food by allergens.  With the globalization in the market place, we must have these types of controls in place to ensure the safety of everyone.  These regulations seem to take a more global approach to food safety and recognize that an increasing amount of the food and/or the ingredients in the food we put on the tables in America comes from outside the borders of the United States.  This fact alone demands that we have stricter laws and regulations in place to protect our population.

By:  Michael Pearsall and Kristin Nauman