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Survey probes food industry fears about food safety changes

What keeps food safety and quality operators up at night? Its a question about feelings not usually included in an industry survey, but the folks at The Acheson Group and Safety Chain Software asked it in their 2017 Food Safety & Quality Operations survey.

The Acheson/Safety Chain probe into these fears found the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) are about time and resources, but not as much understanding. The survey had about 400 respondents from mostly large companies in the U.S and Canada with 74.5 percent involved in manufacturing.

Anxiety is present in the survey findings.

“In rating the biggest barriers to getting a good night’s sleep, resources and time were the most significant challenges, with 80 percent of respondents indicating that both were either big barriers or somewhat of a barrier,” says the survey report.

“Conversely, 50 percent of the respondents indicated that regulatory compliance and understanding best practices and requirements were not a barrier to getting a good night’s sleep.”

Other topics covered in the survey involved supplier compliance, audit preparedness and overall performance of day-to-day company operations. About 95 percent of the survey respondents are either wholly or partially responsible for meeting both regulatory and non-regulatory requirements.

About half think they are achieving success with 48 percent saying their programs are being implemented to plan and 59 percent reporting that tasks are not being missed or delayed.

Just below 70 percent of the respondents said their company falls under FSMA regulation. A little over 10 percent were not sure, and 20.8 percent claimed they were not subject to the law. “This indicates that companies are likely still struggling with understanding FSMA rules apply to them,” said the survey report.

The report also said the survey turned up a broad “level of variance on degrees of preparedness.” One in four respondents said their company has yet to do a “GAP assessment” to determine where they stand.

The survey did find 73 percent of the respondents are certified or in the process of becoming of becoming GFSI certified. “Since GFSI standards are well aligned with FSMA Preventive Control Rule, this puts GFSI certified companies in a very good place for FSMA compliance,” the report says.

Half of the survey respondents reported finding it challenging to keep their GFSI programs up to date with current code requirements.

The Acheson Group (TAG) and TAG Canada is a global consulting service for the food and beverage industry. San Rafael, CA-based Safety Chain Software provides food safety and quality management for inspections, inquiries, and audits.

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