The Food Safety Modernization Act: One Year Later

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Since President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) on January 4, 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made significant progress in developing proposed rules to implement the sweeping food safety reform law, publishing mandated reports, and taking important steps toward increasing overall food safety capacity in the United States. Below are brief summaries of what FDA has accomplished to date.

Highlights of FSMA during 2011:

  • Issued interim final rules on criteria for administrative detention and used this authority three times; issued interim final rules on prior notice of imported food.
  • Issued guidance to the seafood industry on food safety hazards and to the dietary supplement industry regarding new dietary ingredients.
  • Conducted extensive domestic and foreign outreach to all stakeholders to receive input in developing the proposed preventive control rules.
  • Established the Produce Safety Alliance and the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance.
  • Met the FSMA mandate for foreign food safety inspections, and is well on its way to meeting the 5-year inspection frequency mandate for high-risk domestic food facilities.
  • Continued to build State-Federal and global partnerships.

Moving forward, the ability to track and trace ingredients is likely going to be a major focus for food manufacturers as the FSMA is rolled out. The days of brand recognition alone will be long gone; worldwide, all the major producers of food products will now need to focus on brand reputation as well as brand recognition. Government authorities will be requiring companies to track and trace all products to the original point of origin. Today, companies only track goods at convenient points in the supply chain, such as when one ingredient leaves the warehouse and when it arrives in the manufacturing plant. Expect the future to mandate much tighter controls.

From a systems perspective, none of the Tier 1 or Tier 2 ERP vendors have announced a system that supports the mandates of the FSMA. True winners in ERP solutions will be vendors that can provide material and routing information that identifies critical control points in the manufacturing process. Likewise, the system will also need to be made aware of potential new hazardous and other airborne bacteria identified as risks. To date, the only systems tool to support the food safety initiative that is approved by the GSFI is a document management system that is not integrated to the ERP or quality management systems. While many of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 ERP vendors are hosting Food Safety webcasts, none of them are proposing a resolution for the complexity that the FDA is now mandating.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks as Merit Solutions will offer a new perspective on how Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 will support the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2012!

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