It’s time to start thinking about how your business plans on meeting the requirements imposed by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  The FSMA was signed into law over a year ago and key provisions of this Act, along with some required rule-making, are going to be in full effect soon.    

The Act transforms the food safety system in the United States from a reactive system to a preventative system making private businesses responsible for taking preventative measures to ensure the safety of America’s food supply before problems arise.  It’s probably the biggest piece of food safety legislation in over 70 years, and it mandates a host of record keeping requirements and other action plans that breweries, wineries, importers, wholesalers, warehouses and distillers need to be aware of.

There are portions of your daily operations that you need to examine because the FSMA places obligations on you to implement written preventative control plans.  Your supply chain, your distribution chain, your controls for beverage quality and safety, your record maintenance – all of these are things you need to start thinking about to get this done.

At the base level, the FSMA mandates that every food facility implement a written plan to (1) evaluate the hazards that could affect food safety, (2) detail what preventive controls will be put in place to minimize or prevent the hazards, (3) indicate how the facility will monitor these controls to ensure they are working, (4) maintain routine records of the monitoring, and (5) determine what actions the facility will take to correct problems that may arise.

Some other areas to be aware of are the procedures and plans the FDA will be implementing in the near future.  These include regulations to protect against the intentional adulteration of food (coming in the middle of 2012).  Regulations for sanitary practices for the transportation of food (coming in the middle of 2012).  Procedures for the accreditation of laboratories for food testing (coming in early 2013).

While a portion of this is “coming soon” there are things you can start doing now to prepare to meet the requirements imposed by FSMA:

  • Begin preparing your written plans for mandatory preventative control.
  • If you’re importing raw ingredients for your beverages, you should begin working with your foreign suppliers to establish the foreign supplier verifications that FSMA imposes.
  • Begin working with your domestic suppliers to ensure that your supply chain is in compliance with the relevant food safety laws.
  • Begin establishing a plan to deal with an FDA inspection, and state and local inspectors.