September saw two noteworthy FSMA developments of which food companies throughout the U.S. should be aware. For one, the FDA and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) have recently reached an agreement to partner together to implement the FSMA Produce Safety Rule within the industry.
On July 24, 2019, the FDA announced the user fee for the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP). Participation in this program may be an attractive option for U.S.-based food companies who wish to expedite the import process for human and animal foods. The user fee for the program is $16,681, which will support program benefits from October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020. Here, we will explore what participation in the program entails.
Sprout growers face a number of unique food safety challenges. The potential for contamination arises at various points through growing and handling processes, making risk mitigation an important priority for this particular industry. Yet, many of the risk management strategies can benefit other niches in the produce sector as well. Thus, developing a comprehensive understanding of FSMA’s Produce Safety Rule is essential not only for sprout growers, but for agricultural operations as a whole. Here, we’ll look at some of the challenges and best practices for sprout growers, with the understanding that many of these factors also apply to farms in general.
While all produce operations are subject to a broad range of food safety challenges, sprout farms have very specific and heightened risks. Seed contamination can take place on the farm itself, while germination conditions are also ideal for pathogen development. Contamination can also occur during production, and in recent years, sprouts have been linked to a number of pathogen outbreaks, including salmonella and listeria.
The month of June, 2019 was busy for the FDA, as many implementation dates for requirements have come and passed or are soon approaching. As such, the FDA has issued a number of guidance documents and made a few other key developments to prepare the industry for FSMA-related changes. Below are a few of the most noteworthy updates from last month.
In recent years, the food and beverage industry has moved away from simply testing finished products for contaminants. Now, companies have begun to examine the practices in their facilities that can help reduce the risk of contamination, both in processing environments and the processes themselves. They are also using environmental monitoring programs (EMPs) to support a robust and effective environmental control program (ECP) strategy.
As we head into summer, a primary focus for large food and beverage companies is the FSMA Food Defense Plan, which must be written by July 26, 2019. Find a high-level overview of what you need to know about Food Defense Plans and the IA Rule below.
Nowadays, dietary products with hemp and CBD oil seem to be ubiquitous. These ingredients, derived from the cannabis plant, are being infused in food, beverages, and supplements sold in many convenience stores and online. Although these products aren’t difficult for consumers to find, from an industry perspective, questions surrounding their legality raise some concerns.
The FSMA Intentional Adulteration (IA) rule establishes requirements for preventing or significantly minimizing acts intended to cause wide-scale public health harm. It uses a HACCP-type approach, but includes important differences from the Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule. For companies with 500 or more full-time employees, the compliance date for the rule is swiftly approaching, and is slotted for July 26, 2019.
Beyond providing a variety of safe and easily accessible food choices for people with Celiac disease, gluten-free foods are becoming a highly sought-after choice among many individuals across the world. Yet, making the shift towards becoming gluten-free requires putting a comprehensive management program in place first.