The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into law in 2011 but not yet fully implemented via regulations, represents the most comprehensive change to food safety regulation since the 1930s. The impetus for the law stemmed from a number of high-profile outbreaks of foodborne illness over the previous decade, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimating that each year, foodborne diseases sicken one in six Americans (48 million people) and kill 3,000.
The FSMA will affect stakeholders throughout the food supply chain, including food packaging and processing equipment manufacturers. The law shifts the focus of food safety from reacting to contamination incidents to preventing such incidents. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the federal agency that implements the law, gains new powers under the FSMA. First, however, the agency must finish developing and finalizing the regulations that will provide the details on how it will implement the broad requirements of the Act.
It is these regulations – and the regulatory process itself – that food manufacturers are particularly concerned about. Food producers are anxious about the costs of meeting strict compliance requirements, including recordkeeping and traceability standards, and worried about training personnel in new procedures. Equipment makers would likely benefit if they better understand the struggles their customers will face in complying with FSMA regulations.