Peanut Butter Recall: FDA Shows Teeth Under the FSMA

You know it’s a big thing when our local newspaper finds space amongst all of the ads to print a story about food safety.  But there it was in yesterday’s morning paper: the FDA used new authority under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to suspended the registration of a peanut butter production facility.  The details of the story relating to salmonella contaminated peanuts can be found here. The tainted products were sold through a number of retailers including  Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Kilwins Quality Confections, and Target.  It’s a tragedy and its great that the FDA stepped in and shut the place down until issues are resolved.

FDA Shuts Down Peanut Butter Factory Using FSMA Powers

There are two key take-aways:

  1. Because of the FSMA, the FDA now actually has the authority to shut the violator down as opposed to recommending voluntary recalls (which was it’s limitation of authority prior to the FSMA).
  2. Retailers should be as supportive as possible to do anything they can to improve food safety and managing recalls. It’s their brand on the line when customers get sick from eating foods purchased at their store. (You’ll remember the names Trader Joes, Whole Foods and Target a lot longer than SunLand (the peanut butter company) after you’ve read this article.) We need to trust our grocers and we need to know that they’re taking all possible measures to protect our safety.

This is a good sign that progress is being made on implementing the FSMA, which was signed into law in January of 2011. It’s a law which will benefit consumers and, we believe, also will improve business across the industry.  According to an article in Food Safety News, “The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is still working “expeditiously” to implement major portions of the Food Safety Modernization Act.  We are working as expeditiously as possible to implement the food safety legislation we fought so hard for. When it comes to rules with this degree of importance and complexity, it is critical that we get it right.”

It is a complex law and it will take time to implement but many feel that, with the 2012 Presidential Election now behind us, things will pick up speed and producers, growers, shippers and retailers will need to focus more aggressively on addressing new traceability and food safety requirements.

The Food Safety News article explains that: The five major pillars of the FSMA will help pivot the nation’s food system from taking a more reactive to a more preventative approach to food safety. If they [the FDA] reduce foodborne illness rates by even a fraction, they have the potential to save Americans billions of dollars in healthcare costs every year.

Those five pillars — all still awaiting implementation — consist of the following:

– Preventive controls: FDA will require science-based preventive controls throughout the food system. This includes requiring food facilities to write preventive control plans, establishing minimum standards for safe production of fruits and vegetables and introducing regulation to help prevent intentional adulteration of food at vulnerable points in the food chain.

– Inspection and compliance: FDA has new authority to conduct inspections. FDA will inspect all high-risk domestic facilities every three years, have access to facility records and will establish a laboratory accreditation process for third-party testing laboratories.

– Response to violations: FDA will now have the authority to order food recalls – as opposed to recommending voluntary recalls as it does now – in cases of contamination. Farms will also be required to track their product and develop plans for how to issue recalls, though small farms that sell the majority of their product locally (within 275 miles) and sell less than $500,000 a year in product are exempt.

– Oversight of imports: Food importers must now verify that their facilities and preventive controls meet U.S. standards. FDA can now deny food from foreign facilities entry to the U.S. if the facility does not allow access to inspectors.

– Collaborative partnerships: Health agencies, both foreign and domestic, will work collaboratively to improve public health goals. FSMA provides FDA with a grant to develop state and local health agencies’ ability to improve food safety at a localized level. FDA will also develop a plan to help improve foreign industries’ ability to meet U.S. food safety requirements.

Addressing food safety regulations and traceability doesn’t have to be viewed as a cost of doing business but rather viewed as an opportunity. By combining a proactive approach to managing the supply chain – using pallet-level temperature monitoring – the industry can significantly reduce waste and generate more revenues and effectively get traceability for free.

If we work together, it can be a win-win. You can learn more about our solution for improving quality and traceability here.

Kevin Payne

Senior Director of Marketing

PS: If you’re interested in reading more about the FSMA, there’s a good summary here.

 

Thought for Food

Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving here in the USA.  If you’re able to read this blog, chances are that, like me, you’re pretty blessed and have much to be thankful for.  And, if you’re like me, you’ll be able to enjoy a wonderful meal with friends and family that includes a nice entree (I didn’t use the “T-word”), some vegetables and a wealth of other fresh food items. (Note that everyone’s favorite the Brussels Sprout is experiencing a renaissance in time for Thanksgiving! Find more about that here.**)

Who Wants Brussels Sprouts for Thanksgiving???

What you’re probably not thinking about is food safety but every year newspapers publish articles about how to make sure your turkey is properly cleaned, vegetables washed, food cooked  adequately and leftovers stored properly.  If you haven’t seen one of those articles, well, here you go! Read the Sacramento Bee article.

At Intelleflex, we think about food safety every day as food safety and quality is a main focus of our business. We work with growers, grocers and distribution companies to help them make sure that the food you buy at the store is fresh and of high quality. In fact, after you’ve worked at Intelleflex for a while, you can never look at things like a clamshell of strawberries or a bag of spinach the same way!  As the Food Safety Modernization Act begins to be implemented, we’ll see even more news about food safety in the year to come.

So, from all of us here at Intelleflex, a safe and happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Kevin Payne

Senior Director of Marketing

**I actually love Brussels Sprouts.  Just wash them thoroughly, peel the leaves off, saute with some bacon and toss in some chopped pecans and garlic.

What Happened to Our _____? It Was Here a Minute Ago.

If you work at a hospital, factory or simply in an office, you may have noticed that things tend to sometimes walk off on their own. This is bad enough if you lose a pen or notebook but imagine the cost when it’s high-value assets like computers or medical equipment that is misplaced around your facility, or worse – disappearing out your doors.

According to Intelleflex partner Supply Insight, tracking and managing assets presents four challenges:

  • Accountability: Who has or took the asset?
  • Labor: Let me go look for it. It costs time and money to look for a missing asset.
  • Shrinkage: I can’t find it so I’ll order a new one.
  • Hoarding: I don’t want to have this happen again so I’ll order more or just hide the ones I have so others can’t use them.

Using Intelleflex XC3 Technology and Supply Insights rPlatform™ suite of solutions, the company is able to help its customers more efficiently monitor and manage their valuable (and all too often highly mobile) assets.  The result is reduced labor and purchasing costs, better asset utilization and a more informed management team.

You can learn more about this by clicking here to view a SlideShare presentation on their solution suite.

View the Supply Insight SlideShare

Here’s hoping your assets are safe for the holidays!

 

Kevin Payne

Senior Director of Marketing

Untangling the Food Safety Modernization Act

Well, after what seems like a hundred years of campaigning, election day has finally arrived.  Thank heavens!  That can only mean that the 2016 campaign begins tomorrow.

But, until then, the results of today’s election could impact the rollout and implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act – the landmark legislation signed by President Obama in January of 2011.  There’s been a lot of speculation about how Obama or Romney will handle this after the election but I personally think it’s an important piece of legislation.  Today alone I spoke with two different journalists about this topic.  (You can listen to my conversation with The AME Food Testing Show on BlogTalkRadio here.)

Talking the FSMA and Other Topics on BlogTalkRadio

FSMA is a complicated law that addresses the complicated issue of domestic and international food safety.  United Fresh, among others, have done a lot to help explain it to their members.  If you’re a member of United Fresh, you can get a copy of their analysis here and United Fresh is also hosting a webinar on the topic on November 18.

I recently came across another overview of the legislation that was published in Food Logistics Magazine and the authors of the piece, Leavitt Partners and Eurofins, were kind enough to give me permission to post it on our website.  It’s a nice, easy-to-digest summary of key points in the law.  Worth the read and my thanks to the authors for letting us share it.  You can download a copy here.

Read the Leavitt Partners-Eurofins Article

Food safety and quality is something that we should all be invested in.  I’m optimistic that, with the election behind us, we’ll be able to focus time and resources on this important topic.

 

Kevin Payne

Senior Director of Marketing

 

Your Shipment Has Been Delayed

The tragic effects of Superstorm Sandy will be with many people for a long time.  I’m fortunate that all of my friends on the east coast are ok, although many remain without power. There are so many difficult issues relating to this storm and the cold supply chain is one that may slip under the radar of most people…but not under the radar of supply chain professionals.

Andrea Charles of Pharma-IQ (part of IQPC) recently wrote an article that asked about supply chains being ready for natural disasters.  She raises the impact of tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes (not to mention blizzards, power outages, or other issues) on the pharmaceutical cold chain. She also speaks to the need to ensure that important medications are available to those affected by a disaster. I won’t debate here about whether climate change is real or not because, whether it is or isn’t, if you’re shipping high value, temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical or food items and your shipment is delayed due to an unpredictable storm or disaster, you’re at risk.

Now What Do You Do?

Andrea quotes Dave Alberts, Director at Crimson & Co. who says: Unfortunately, there is no way in which to fully prepare for such natural disasters as they are unexpected. However, the frequency at which these occur validate that contingency plans must be put in place wherever possible and organizations must attempt to protect product supply through efficient, planned out strategies and best practices. Research into the affects is a good start and companies participating in this are clearly at the forefront of successful and adaptive supply chains.”

Alberts talks about the need for adaptive supply chains.  I agree.  But what makes a supply chain adaptable is intelligence – knowing the condition of your product on-demand as it travels from the manufacturer to its destination.  If your product is stuck at an airport due to cancelled or delayed flights or if a ship can’t dock or a truck can’t get through, you need to know if its temperature is still in range so that you can rechill or reroute as necessary.  You want to be able to do this autonomously and without searching out and opening individual packages.  With so much unpredictability, you can’t account for every conceivable variable but you can build in the ability to proactively manage your supply chain so you can respond in a timely manner when a disaster strikes and help minimize losses.  Wireless temperature monitors that provide actionable data on-demand can help.

Kevin Payne

Senior Director of Marketing