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Food Safety 101 – The FSMA

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law on January 4, 2011 by President Obama in an effort become more proactive, not reactive, in terms of improving food safety, increasing compliance, and handling problems more effectively. The major areas of focus include:

  • Prevention—The FDA requires comprehensive, science-based preventive controls.
  • Inspection and Compliance—Controls are only effective if there is compliance; thus, the FDA will provide oversight to ensure compliance and respond when problems arise.
  • Response—The FDA needs the tools and authority to intervene and respond when problems are encountered.
  • Imports—The FDA will have the authority to certify that imported products align with US standards and are safe.
  • Enhanced Partnerships—Government agencies/food safety agencies (foreign and domestic) need to work together in order to reach safety goals.

The FDA has implemented parts of the Act. Other sections are still being discussed, and the details are being finalized.                Eggs


  • April 2011: The guidance to the seafood industry was issued, a more consumer-friendly search engine for looking up recalled products was launched, and the first annual report by HHS Secretary Sebelius was submitted to Congress
  • May 2011: A docket is opened for the discussion of preventive controls used by food/feed facilities, a final rule was issued allowing the FDA to order administrative detention if food is believed to be adulterated, etc., and a final rule was issued requiring imported food to report the countries that the product has been refused entry.
  • July 2011: The FDA, USDA, and NIFA agreed to work together to create a grant program for food safety training, etc., an anti-smuggling strategy from HHS and DHS was issued, and a draft for the standards for the dietary supplement industry was issued
  • August 2011: The 2012 fee schedule was published
  • October 2011: The FDA releases a document providing guidance for the fee provisions of the FSMA
  • December 2011: The Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA) was created

Still to Come

  • Due January 2012: The final rule for the foreign supplier verification program, preventive controls requirements, and a produce safety rule
  • Due July 2012: Mandatory controls for food facilities, regulations to combat intentional adulteration of food, and a voluntary program for importers that approves foods quicker from participating importers

Though the progress may seem slow, the FDA maintains that they are still fully committed to implementing the FSMA; thus, many food organizations will be required to play the waiting game. In an article by Greg Nelson, he urges growers, packagers, shippers, etc. to develop and implement a recall program now to deal with situations of adulterated/contaminated food in the future.

Are You Covered?

Many insurance companies offer various coverages for these types of exposures.  To make sure you are properly protected, please consult with your local independent insurance agent for additional information and consultation.

We welcome your thoughts on the FSMA.  How do you think this will impact food producers?

This post was written by Amber Hockman, an intern in our Agribusiness Division.