What Food Safety Modernization Act deadlines will unfold this year?

Former President Obama signed the Food and Drug and Administration's Food Safety Modernization Act into law Jan. 4, 2011. Regarded as one of the most influential food safety laws in the past few decades, it shifts the focus to put measures in place that prevent food contamination. This legislation awards more power to the FDA to monitor and regulate how foods are grown, harvested and processed.

One of the motivating factors behind the passage of this law were the numerous foodborne illnesses affecting the American people in the early 2000s. Healthline revealed that some of these many instances include the 2003 hepatitis A outbreak at a chain restaurant in Pennsylvania, at least two E. coli outbreaks in 2006 and the 2011 Cargill food recall of 36 million pounds of ground turkey meat due to concerns about Salmonella contamination. 

"The FSMA awards more power to the FDA."

The passage of the FSMA was not a one-time regulatory sweep. Instead, there have been seven FSMA rules released in the last two years for the food and beverage industry. Now, the compliance periods that accompany these regulations are set to unfold over the next year. While the current administration might make changes to food safety over the next four years, it would be extremely difficult to reverse regulations and deadlines enacted by the FSMA. Reporters for Law360 writes about a few of these deadlines:

1. Human Food Preventive Controls
This part of the FSMA required large facilities to create food safety plans by September 2016. Now, the food manufacturers or processors who receive ingredients or materials must enact supply chain programs that are FSMA compliant by March 17, 2017. Smaller businesses must also develop these food safety plans, only their deadline is Sept. 17, 2017. Key requirements of these safety plans must include a hazard analysis, preventative controls and the oversight/management of these controls.

2. Animal Food Preventive Controls
Facilities that handle large animals had to comply with animal good manufacturing practices (cGMPs) by September 2016. However, large animal food facilities now must adhere to preventive control requirements, such as the safety plans required for the human food sector, by Sept. 17, 2016. According to the requirements, animal manufacturing facilities must "establish and implement a food safety system that includes an analysis of hazards and risk-based preventive controls. The rule sets requirements for a written food safety plan."

"Around 48 million people get sick from foodborne diseases each year."

3. Produce Safety
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that around 48 million people get sick from foodborne diseases each year. Of those individuals, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die. After investigating many outbreaks between 1996 and 2010, the FDA determined that some of these instances were the result of contamination during the growing, harvesting, processing or transportation periods. As a result, all large farms must comply with new produce safety requirements by Jan. 26, 2018. Farmers who operate sprout farms adhere had to these regulations by Jan. 26, 2017. 

4. Foreign Imports
With the uncertain international landscape under the new administration, this is one area of the FSMA that could potentially change or see repercussions. The key principles of this rule include importer accountability, third-party certification, certification for high-risk foods, voluntary qualified importer program and authority to deny entry. Select importers of food must now develop foreign supplier verification programs by May 27, 2017, to make sure that all food produced overseas meets the U.S. safety standards. 

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