The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is tackling a number of initiatives under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that holds food retailers, manufacturers/suppliers and distributors accountable for food quality and keeping the public safe from the effects of contaminated food outbreaks.
Part of ongoing legislation surrounding the public health imperative on food safety, the FSMA addresses issues brought about by the new hazards introduced by the globalization and increasing complexity of the food supply, technological advances in transportation, and the shifting demographics of people impacted by foodborne illnesses.
Why should pizzeria owner/operators care about the FSMA?
At first glance, it appears that the focus of the FSMA has little to do with pizzeria owners/operators. But the reality is it has everything to do with them since their supply chain partners must comply with FDA legislation — including inspections, audits, traceability regulations, testing and import/transportation safety. Let’s take a look at FSMA as it relates to two typical areas in pizzeria supply chains:
The FSMA calls out a specific rule that protects food from farm to table. The Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food rule furthers contamination safeguards envisioned in the 2005 Sanitary Food Transportation Act (SFTA). The rule established requirements for shippers, loaders, motor or rail vehicle carriers and receivers to use sanitary food practices; all backed by a required 12-month record of written procedures, agreements and training.
Think about ingredients you use in your shop. Where do they come from? How do they get to your kitchen? One thing is certain: transportation is involved. Making sure your supply chain partners are working with FSMA-compliant transporters that can produce documented traceability covers your bases should an unfortunate food-related contamination event occur in your pizzeria.
Food companies are facing significant, but yet to be finalized, FDA changes regarding allergen controls, particularly as it relates to the inadvertent introduction of contaminants into products. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) of 2004 already addresses the “big eight” allergens — milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans — from use to labeling. Now, the FSMA drills into “undeclared allergens,” meaning those foods and ingredients appearing through cross-contact of some kind. Implementation of processes and preventative controls for undeclared allergens is a top FSMA priority.
In a past blog, we talked about the precautions to take when serving patrons with food allergies. The FSMA legislation is an amplification of that concept. The importance cannot be underestimated of working with suppliers that are committed to meticulous allergen control, from sanitation and equipment cleaning practices to producing letters of guarantee for raw ingredients and cross-contact-free storage.
How does the FSMA protect pizzeria owner/operators?
FSMA legislation is aimed at ultimately protecting your patrons, but it protects you as well. Implementing stringent mandates and responsibilities for companies you partner with inside your supply chain translates to minimizing the likelihood of patrons being harmed by contaminated food and perhaps filing suit against your restaurant or deli operation.
When do supply chain partners need to comply with the FSMA?
Compliance deadlines are dictated by company size. Those with fewer than 500 employees and less than $10 million in annual revenue have three years to comply from the date of law publication; those with 500 employees or more and exceed $10 million in annual revenue have two years to comply. If you’re unsure of where your suppliers fall on that scale, ask and follow up on their compliance standing. Better safe than sorry. Visit the FDA’s official FSMA page for more information.
Is there anything pizzeria owners/operators should do to prepare for the FSMA impact?
Pizzeria owners/operators are not legally bound to any specific FSMA protocol. However, it’s smart to train your employees and guide your suppliers in what compliance with these mandates means to your operation and, conversely, the consequences of noncompliance that reflect the seriousness of the matter — reprimand or release for employees; severing of partnerships for suppliers.
Learn how to incorporate choosing FSMA-certified partners/distributors into your overall business strategy and more in our eBook, How to Scale Restaurant Growth. Click the button below to download your free copy.