As all food and beverage industry operators should know, in 2016 the Food & Drug Administration finalized the rules of the Food Safety Modernization Act, or FSMA. And by July, the Intentional Adulteration final rule will begin to be enforced by the agency. Under this rule, food facilities must maintain a written “food defense plan.” This plan will outline and evaluate any conceivable vulnerability to “intentional adulteration from acts intended to cause wide-scale harm to public health, including acts of terrorism targeting the food supply” (https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-modernization-act-fsma/fsma-final-rule-mitigation-strategies-protect-food-against-intentional-adulteration).
Required compliance timelines differ based on the size of your business, but unless your company has a special exception, if it employs more than 500 people it will need to be in compliance with this rule by July 2019. According to the FDA, routine inspections that verify compliance with the Intentional Adulteration rule will start in March of next year.
So what’s a food defense plan?
The first part of a compliant food defense plan for your business is completing a vulnerability assessment, where the company pinpoints the areas in operations that are most susceptible to intentional adulteration. Once these areas are identified, the company must write out actionable process steps and explanations to them all. Mitigation strategies should then be identified at each step that will ensure these vulnerabilities are curbed or prevented.
Finally, companies must have steps in place to manage the implementation of each necessary mitigation strategy: how will they be monitored? What actions will be taken if the strategies aren’t implemented correctly? How will compliance be verified?
If your business is struggling to comply with the new FSMA rules, solutions like VeriCheck are simple and effective ways to get on track, quickly. With VeriCheck, your operators can easily define what tasks need completion and keep track of what’s gotten done. As your employees build a vulnerability assessment, they will be able to quickly build task lists; time will be spent efficiently as everyone will be on the same page about what steps come next at the glance of their phone or tablet.
While implementing new safety rules takes time and forethought, following them closely only means more safety for both your customers and your business. For a list of resources that were made for the FDA’s voluntary food defense program that are still relevant to the new rules, visit www.fda.gov/fooddefense. For more information on VeriSolutions’ smart solutions and how they can help your business optimize its food safety plan, visit www.verisolutions.co.