With an estimated 48 million people getting sick, and 3,000 of them dying from foodborne illnesses each year, it’s evident why an FSMA certification is essential.
The Food and Drug Administration created general safety standards that apply to all parties involved in food, from manufacturers to distributors and retailers. Thus, the Food Safety and Modernization Act was signed into law to reduce the risks of food contamination.
What Is FSMA?
FSMA or Food Safety and Modernization Act as implemented by FDA to ensure food safety. Seven rules were established, with each one aimed at reducing food contamination.
These seven rules are:
- Preventative controls for human food
- Preventative controls for animal food
- Produce safety
- Foreign supplier verification program
- Third-Party Certification
- Food defense
- Sanitary transportation
Why Should You Be Concerned About FSMA?
All food and beverage businesses, regardless of whether you’re an importer or a retailer, must understand the food safety rules. It’s vital for you to have the FSMA certification so that you’ll abide by the law, and your customers will be confident that your food supply is safe for consumption.
However, if you deal with meat, dairy products, and poultry, then FSMA doesn’t apply to you as the United States Department of Agriculture regulates this area.
When Do You Have To Comply?
The FDA operational compliance deadlines are staggered over several years following the date the final rules were established. Compliance varies depending on the size of your business, and what safety rules apply to you.
Essentially, large companies with over 500 employees should have achieved compliance by 2016, while those with fewer employees had until 2017. Very small businesses had until 2018, but you can learn more here about the final FSMA compliance dates to see where your business falls.
What Happens If You Don’t Comply?
The FSMA is a law, so any violations are bound to be treated as criminal acts. Once the FDA finds a violation, they issue a warning letter to the business and publishes it to their website for the public to see.
The business is given 15 days to comply with the letter, after which the FDA is likely to re-inspect the business to ensure compliance. The business would have to pay fees to cover the re-inspection.
Apart from the FDA, you could have significant consequences if you don’t comply with the rules and regulations. If news gets to the media that you may have contaminated food, it will erode your business reputation, and you’ll lose customers and profits.
In severe cases, the Food and Drug Administration may arrest you and all involved parties, then conduct a company audit that could lead to a shutdown. Besides that, consumers could also sue your business in the event of food-related illnesses or wrongful death.
FSMA Certification: The Bottom Line
The best thing to do for your business is to get your FSMA certification and comply with the rules that apply to your business. You should also know that even if your business is not covered by FSMA, you can still get sued for food contamination, so you need to be careful when dealing with food and beverage.
Check out our other articles for more informative content.