What the FSMA? Incoming Changes to Food Regulations.

ERP Food and Beverage

The food supply chain has become increasingly complex, with food products sometimes traversing multiple states, countries and even continents before reaching consumers. Governing bodies at every level contend that this complexity increases the risk of food-borne illness outbreaks and contamination incidents. The varying regulations have also created a lot of questions in the minds of consumers, who want to know where their food comes from, what went into its creation, previously unimportant nutrition information, and more. Enhanced dietary restrictions for diets like veganism and soy products have also brought chemical foods into question for consumers with varying dietary requirements. As a result, food governing bodies have taken the proactive measure to ensure compliance across all food businesses, and small businesses will no longer be exempt from certain traceability requirements.

The updates to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that included modifications such as the high profile FSMA 204, have prompted to acknowledge this global food landscape, and enhance the safety of consumers. In a nutshell, FSMA 204 is born for the following reasons: 

  1. Focus on Problem Prevention: Historically, food safety regulations primarily focused on responding to foodborne illness outbreaks after they occurred, rather than a proactive approach to prevention. The updates to FSMA aimed to shift the regulatory framework toward a more preventive approach, requiring food processors to identify and mitigate potential hazards before they pose a risk to public health. FSMA 204 specifically emphasizes the importance of preventive controls for reducing the risk of foodborne hazards in human food processing operations. 
  1. High-Profile Food-borne Illness Outbreaks: High-profile food-borne illness outbreaks, such as those involving pathogens like Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, can have severe public health consequences, including illnesses, hospitalizations, and even fatalities. The introduction of rules like FSMA 204, were influenced by a desire to prevent such outbreaks and improve overall food safety. 
  1. Globalization of Food Trade: The globalization of food trade has increased the complexity and interconnectedness of the food supply chain, making it more challenging to ensure the safety of imported foods and ingredients. The updates to FSMA aimed to strengthen oversight of imported foods through measures such as the FSVP (Foreign Supplier Verification Program), which requires importers to verify that their foreign suppliers meet U.S. food safety standards. FSMA 204 is designed to complement these efforts by establishing preventive controls for domestic food processors to further safeguard the food supply. 
  1. Advancements in Food Safety Science and Technology: Advances in food safety science and technology have provided new insights into foodborne hazards and improved methods for preventing contamination throughout the food supply chain. The updates to FSMA reflect these advancements by incorporating science-based principles and risk-based approaches to food safety management. FSMA 204, for example, emphasizes the importance of conducting hazard analyses and implementing preventive controls based on the best available scientific evidence. 

Overall, the updates to FSMA, including modifications such as the FSMA 204 rule, were driven by a combination of factors important to consumers. And the results are impacting food producers everywhere. Food leaders will need solutions that accomplish these goals effectively by January 2025.  

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