FSMA - A Proactive Approach to Food Safety

November 14, 2022
Food & Bev

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 48 million people contract a food-borne illness each year. That is, 1 in 6 people each year get ill from improper food

handling. With numbers like this, it’s important to have a solid plan in place to ensure food safety throughout the food supply chain from growers and processing to the consumer.

What exactly is “improper food handling”? There are many possible culprits ranging from improper hand-washing by employees who handle the food to temperature excursions when being transferred from one distribution center to another during transit.  

Logically, it would make sense to put certain measures in place that could prevent such mishandling.  Who better to do this than the FDA?  In 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law to require all food industry companies to develop and implement specific food safety guidelines as mapped out by Hazard Analysis Risk-Based Preventative Control (HARPC).  

Most people in the industry are familiar with Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) which originated in the 1960’s by NASA as a quality control program for food accompanying astronauts to space. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that HACCP plans were integrated into the food industry and even then, only mandated for certain types of food: seafood, meat, poultry and juice.

In order to incorporate these requirements into ALL companies within the food industry, the FSMA was created. The foundation of the FSMA stems from HACCP’s 7 main principles: Hazard Analysis, Critical Control Points, Critical Limits, Monitoring of Procedures, Corrective Actions, Verification, Recordkeeping and Documentation procedures.

However, some updates were crucial which is why HARPC was created and founded on 8 principles:

1) Hazard Analysis

2) Risk-based Preventative Controls

3) Monitoring of Effectiveness

4) Corrective Actions

5) Verification

6) Supply Chain Program

7) Record-keeping and Documentation

8) Requirement to Reanalyze.

As you can see, these principles are very similar with the one major change of replacing critical control points and limits with risk-based preventative controls - a shift from a reactive, HACCP, to proactive, HARPC, approach.  

In a world where our food system is a necessity to proper health, it’s important that companies follow these strict food safety requirements to combat the number of food-borne illnesses per year. With an effective HARPC plan and being fully compliant with the FSMA, you can do your part in keeping your consumers safe and happy.

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