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Problems that Hinder FSMA Compliance and Strategies to Solve Them
Mike Koeris

By: Mike Koeris on May 17th, 2017

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Problems that Hinder FSMA Compliance and Strategies to Solve Them

FSMA  |  Food Safety

Is your food manufacturing company in full compliance with FSMA yet? The clock is ticking, and deadlines are fast approaching. In fact, compliance dates for some companies have already passed. If you’re behind the timeline, it’s essential to get up to speed before noncompliance penalties are at your doorstep.

Implementing the plans and procedures necessary to fulfill FSMA requirements isn’t a quick or easy effort. You may be intimidated by the time commitment and complexity, but that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to ignore your compliance responsibility. Don’t jeopardize your operations or your brand by letting these problems and challenges get in the way of meeting FSMA regulations.

In this article, you’ll discover some of the most common issues that can hinder FSMA compliance and learn effective strategies for overcoming them. Use this insight to prepare and protect your plant in the face of evolving food safety realities.

PROBLEM: Lack of Awareness and Training

One of the greatest obstacles to FSMA compliance is a general lack of knowledge and awareness surrounding the new regulations. This is especially true for smaller companies. If your team is uninformed about the expected changes, you can’t possibly know how to execute them. And even if you are aware of the new laws, you may not understand how to apply them in a practical way or how to involve every team member in the process.

SOLUTION: Make education a priority.

Preparing your facility to undergo the shift in approach that’s needed to comply with FSMA requires a strong plan for education and training. Be sure to designate a team or individual to overseeing this function and staying abreast of all news and updates. Compliance doesn’t happen in a silo. Every member of your organization -- from the top down and across every department -- should be trained on and actively involved in implementation.

To assist with this effort, there are many resources available. From the FDA to other relevant associations, there are reliable sources to consult. Do your homework, and make this information available to everyone. With the proper education and training, meeting and maintaining FSMA compliance is a shared responsibility with more successful outcomes.

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PROBLEM: Fractured Visibility and Data Tracking

Under the FSMA mandates being rolled out to food companies across the country, there’s a much tighter focus on contamination prevention. Your strategies and methods for food safety are no longer sufficient if they don’t take a proactive approach. This proactive mentality relies on having a strong environmental monitoring program (EMP) in place, and for any EMP to be truly effective, it must facilitate a high level of visibility, communication and data tracking.

Think about your current operations. Do you have solid protocols and tools in place that enable the team to visualize the entire plant with regard to preventive controls and corrective actions? To quickly communicate results and actions to your whole team? To ensure that your EMP is properly scheduled, monitored and reported on? If you’re relying on outdated, manual processes to keep your contamination prevention efforts on track, you’re lacking the kind of support that’s necessary to maintain full and steady compliance.

SOLUTION: Onboard a dedicated food safety software solution immediately.

Your operations comprise a multitude of functions from department to department. This complexity makes it essential to have powerful communication throughout the company, as well as robust visibility for all members of the team -- an impossible feat if you’re not utilizing the proper data tracking and communication solution.

By investing in high-quality food safety software able to satisfy your preventive control and corrective action needs, you equip the entire team to become active contributors to FSMA compliance. This solution delivers the ability to visualize your critical control points as well as any other preventive control points on an intuitively easy to navigate floor plan. This allows you to quickly see locations and patterns that may need to be addressed in your food safety plan. It enables you to leverage automated notifications that keep everyone apprised of important alerts and information. It ensures that you have all EMP sampling data, testing results and corrective action records in one easily accessible location, which can be provided instantaneously in the event of an FDA audit.

It’s time to evaluate whether your existing visibility and data tracking solutions are enough to keep your EMP in check and meet tougher food safety regulations, or whether they’re just one more problem obstructing your ability to comply with FSMA. This area can’t be an afterthought; it has to drive your plans to adopt more proactive contamination prevention strategies.

PROBLEM: Insufficient HACCP Plan

The existence of a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) Plan in and of itself does not translate to FSMA compliance. However, applying a proper system for identifying, evaluating and controlling food safety hazards based on the principles of HACCP is an essential component of developing the foundation needed to meet evolving regulations. If your facility lacks an HACCP Plan, or is following an incomplete or inadequate one, you’re certainly in no position to be carrying out the necessary steps for FSMA compliance.  

SOLUTION: Create and implement a well-structured HACCP Plan immediately.

Assemble a team of individuals who can research and construct a dynamic HACCP Plan based on the seven basic principles of:

  1. Hazard analysis
  2. Critical control point identification
  3. Establishing critical limits
  4. Monitoring procedures
  5. Corrective actions
  6. Verification procedures
  7. Record-keeping and documentation

The execution of the continuous surveillance of the HACCP control points must then also be enabled by a cutting-edge food safety software solution.

With this framework in place, you’re drastically more prepared to enforce proactive measures that put your operations in compliance with current FSMA rules.

Putting off your responsibility to prepare for FSMA rollout is a bad decision that could bring costly, damaging consequences. Get on track with compliance strategies today. Start by taking this free FSMA Assessment quiz to see where your company may be falling short.

Is Your EMP Ready for FSMA?