Food For Thought: A Look at FSMA

Amar Kulkarni
By: Amar Kulkarni
Date: December 20, 2016

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six Americans (about 48 million) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year from foodborne diseases. The FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) looks to improve practices and standards in food manufacturing for better public health. An earlier post looked at how game-changing manufacturing companies were being proactive about compliance standards, but this post looks at the dates and details of the act and what it means for manufacturing companies.

Background Basics

FMSA is the largest and most drastic reform to U.S. food safety laws. Put forth by the FDA, FSMA looks to change how the industry approaches food safety problems. The rule applies to shippers, loaders, carriers and receivers who transport food in the U.S. by motor or rail, with some exceptions.

Historically, intervention into food safety practices was not enabled until a foodborne contamination was discovered. FSMA is changing the approach to be proactive and preventative, giving the FDA more control along the manufacturing and distribution process, from the farm to the consumer’s home. Traceability is an important factor in these laws and should be a main goal for food and beverage organizations.

Details on Deadlinesfsma-compliance

As compliance deadlines come up, it is important to be aware of when certain standards will apply to different company types. The types of companies are broken down into three categories; general, small business, and very small business. All businesses fall under general compliance standards unless they fit into one of the other two categories. Small business refers to any company with less than 500 employees. A business is considered very small by FSMA compliance standards based on annual food sales, which vary between standards.

How to Ensure Compliance

Implementing an ERP system designed for food and beverage manufacturers is the most effective way to be sure compliance standards are met. An ERP system is an  investment, but delivers benefits for the business and consumer. Companies get access to real time data, lot tracking, thus delivering visibility into key traceability requirements. It also allows for detailed control and visability across the supply chain, illustrating where waste can be eliminated and costs can be cut. A product recall averages a direct cost of $10 million, in addition to damage to a brand, lost sales, and business interruption costs – all of which could have been avoided with planning and the right technology.

Companies who aren’t prepared for changes the FSMA brings are at minimum increasing chaos and risk, and at the extreme losing the business due to excess fines and the ramifactions that come from failure to comply. Compliance is mandatory. The right ERP system provides benefits beyond compliance, including and improved operations and safer products for consumers.

Amar Kulkarni is vice president manufacturing at Avaap. Amar works with food and beverage processors to implement Infor M3, PLM and other Infor software solutions, helping them stay current with industry trends, compliance changes and opportunities that bring best practice processes to manufacturing organizations.

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