By Darryl Lewis
Every year, nearly 1 in 6 Americans suffer a food-borne illness of some kind. Of those afflicted with a food-borne illness, 128,000 will become hospitalized and 3,000 will die. To combat these numbers and make food safer for Americans, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was created by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in January 2011. The goal of the legislation was to create the framework for a preventative system rather than a reactionary system that tries to mitigate the problem as quickly and affordably as possible.
Under this legislation, the FDA has the power to force food companies to issue recalls for a variety of reasons, including known contamination with a pathogen like salmonella and E. coli. This is increasingly becoming important as many Americans report food allergies and sensitivities. It also reduces mislabeling of any kind and manufacturing errors. Past food recalls have cost companies an average of $10 million and are potentially devastating to the organization’s persona.
Another area that FSMA addresses that hasn’t previously been proposed in food safety legislation is the role of foreign suppliers in supply chains. Check your food labels the next time you go to the grocery store. You may be surprised to learn that 15 percent of all food in this country is imported. The food or ingredients produced in other countries may not have the same quality standards that are outlined in ours. Here are some actions that food companies should take to address this vital area, as well as other measures, to increase product safety for their consumers.
This will help ensure compliance and transparency across the supply chain. Under this program, additional accountability is placed on the importer to make sure they have the necessary preventative controls in effect. If they are not in place, it is up to the importer to request and enforce compliance in order to avoid penalties and recalls. By following these steps, importers and their respective food companies will enhance product quality.
Through a rigorous benchmarking process formed by food industry leaders, it establishes the best food safety schemes for companies to follow. These schemes are certified by a third party audit. Participating in this process is a pivotal step food companies looking to maximize their food safety policies.
Ultimately, food companies must be able to deliver a safe product to their customers. This has become more complicated as food supply chains have grown. There is more room for error than ever before, which can be scary given the fact that people do die from foodborne illnesses each year.
Therefore, organizations must be able to ensure that all of their partners and suppliers are compliant with the FSMA and other regulations and standards that have been implemented to prevent adverse events from occurring. The aforementioned tips above can go a long way in helping food companies maintain the quality and safety of their products – wherever they come from.
Image credit: Pixabay/kpgolfpro
Darryl Lewis is a digital marketing and a fine/performing arts enthusiast. His concern about social and environmental issues is unwavering, always seeking opportunities to create a positive impact on the people in his community and the world. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Marketing from Stockton University. Follow him on Twitter @dlew4life