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FDA Kicks Off the ‘Year of the Food Safety Modernization Act’

In front of hundreds of food industry and trade association representatives in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) presented its unified plan to roll out and implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Signed by President Obama in January 2011, FSMA will bring about the most sweeping changes to the U.S. food system in more than 70 years.

On the first day of its “FSMA Kickoff Meeting,” FDA officials gave stakeholders an update on key components of the new law, declaring 2015 “the year of FSMA.”

FDA inspectIn the afternoon, the agency dedicated a series of listening sessions to gather perspective from everyone in attendance who had something to say — and many did. Concerns came in covering a range of topics.

Importers still need more concrete details about how they’ll be evaluated. Domestic food manufacturers want to know how FDA’s new inspection system will affect them and how the agency will keep the system consistent for all growers and manufacturers.

But one fact from the meeting was certain — FSMA is on its way, with all of the rules being finalized within the coming year, and nearly all food makers are required to comply in less than five years.

The following is a summary of when the major components of FSMA will be finalized and when food companies will be required to comply with them.

Preventive Controls for Human Food

The rules on preventive controls are intended to set safety requirements for facilities that process, package and store food.

Final rule deadline: Aug. 30, 2015

Compliance deadline for firms with 500+ employees: One year after publication of the final rule

Compliance deadline for small businesses (fewer than 500 employees): Two years after publication

Compliance deadline for very small businesses (less than $1 million in annual sales): Three years after publication

Preventive Controls for Animal Food

These rules are intended to better protect animal food and feed from contaminants.

Final rule deadline: Aug. 30, 2015

Compliance deadline for businesses with $2.5+ million in annual sales: One year after publication

Compliance deadline for small businesses (fewer than 500 employees): Two years after publication

Compliance deadline for very small businesses (less than $2.5 million in annual sales): Three years after publication

Produce Safety Rule

The produce safety rule is intended to set new standards for growing, harvesting, packing and holding produce on domestic and foreign farms. Farms with less than $25,000 in annual produce sales are exempt from this rule.

Final rule deadline: Oct. 31, 2015

Compliance deadline for farms with $500,000+ in annual produce sales: Two years after publication

Compliance deadline for small businesses (farms with $250,000-500,000 in annual produce sales): Three years after publication

Compliance deadline for very small businesses (farms with $25,000-250,000 in annual produce sales): Four years after publication

Compliance deadline for water quality standards and related testing: Two additional years past produce rule compliance date

Foreign Supplier Verification Program

The FSVP is intended to hold importers responsible for ensuring that foreign food suppliers meet the same public health standards required of U.S. food producers.

Final rule deadline: Oct. 31, 2015

Compliance deadline for most firms: 18 months after publication

Third Party Certification of Auditors for Foreign Suppliers

The third party certification program will establish a program for the accreditation of third-party auditors to inspect and evaluate foreign facilities and the foods they produce.

Final rule deadline: Oct. 31, 2015

FDA said it “intends to implement this program as soon as possible after publication of the final rule.”

Sanitary Transportation Rule

This rule will require the use of sanitary practices for transporting food.

Final rule deadline: March 31, 2016

Compliance deadline for motor carriers with $25.5+ million in annual receipts or businesses with 500+ employees: One year after publication

Compliance deadline for small motor carriers with less than $25.5 million in annual receipts or small businesses with fewer than 500 employees: Two years after publication

Intentional Adulteration Rule

The intentional adulteration rule will require facilities to implement a food defense plan to prevent actions intended to cause public harm.

Final rule deadline: May 31, 2016

Compliance deadline for business with 500+ employees: One year after publication

Compliance deadline for small businesses (fewer than 500 employees): Two years after publication

Compliance deadline for very small businesses (less than $10 million in annual sales): Three years after publication

Expect more coverage of FSMA in the days and weeks to come. Food Safety News will be posting a series of stories on FSMA and many of the challenges that remain before it can be fully realized across the food system.

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