We’ve been waiting and wondering if the Food Safety Modernization Act was ever going to make it out of the gates. Now, two years to the day after President Obama signed the FSMA into law, the FDA has announced the release of the proposed rules for the law. Heck, it even made the front page of our local paper over the weekend! Those of us in the industry have certainly been aware of the implications of the law but, by and large, the public hasn’t heard much about it. The fact that this is front page news is significant as increased public awareness will also put pressure in the industry to take action.
According to United Fresh, two proposed rules will be released:
The Preventive Controls for Human Food rule would require food companies—whether they manufacture, process, pack or store food—to put in place better controls to minimize and reduce the risk of contamination.
The Produce Safety rule would require farms that grow, harvest, pack or hold fruits and vegetables to follow standards that are aimed at preventing contamination.
FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said that “The FDA knows that food safety, from farm to fork, requires partnership with industry, consumers, local, state and tribal governments, and our international trading partners. Our proposed rules reflect the input we have received from these stakeholders and we look forward to working with the public as they review the proposed rules.”
The FSMA should motivate the food industry to fundamentally rethink their cold chains. It’s not a simple feat to move from a reactive methodology that’s been in place for decades to a proactive one but the benefits to consumers – and to the industry – can be immense. It’s important to note that Hamburg specifically mentioned “farm to fork” and “international trading partners”.
Also interesting is commentary (Fresh Plaza and elsewhere) that the expected cost to large farms is estimated by the FDA to be roughly $30,000, and the cost for small farms is expected to reach $13,000. But, when traceability is done in conjunction with temperature monitoring to reduce waste, enough savings can be found to more than pay for the cost of traceability. In effect, the additional revenues by being able to sell more of the produce cover the cost of implementing traceability and then some!
Much has changed in the industry over the years due to globalized and elongated cold chains. I expect retailer grocers will take the lead on this and begin to mandate electronic temperature and traceability solutions for their suppliers starting in the field, whether that field is in California or Chile.
(You can learn how Intelleflex can help address FSMA requirements here.)
It’s a nice way to start what should be a very interesting – and busy – year.
Senior Director of Marketing