By Linda Bryan,
CEO, Tamlin Software
The first step isn’t always the hardest. Sometimes, in fact, it’s one of the easiest.
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is a case in point. The final rules are in place, and deadlines are looming. And with its phased approach and extra ramp-up time allotted for smaller companies, the road to FSMA compliance may not be as bumpy as you think.
Here’s a quick overview of five key things small food processors and distributors should know to get the ball rolling on FSMA compliance:
1. Your first compliance deadline is August 30, 2017. The FSMA has set 8-30-17 as the deadline for small businesses to have preventive controls in place—a one-year extension over the general compliance period.
Small businesses are defined as those with 500 employees or less, and the ruling pertains to providers of human food as well as animal feed products.
2. Very small businesses have an extra year to meet the same standards. If you’re a very small producer, your deadline for having preventive controls in place is pushed back to August 30, 2018. The FDA defines a “very small business” as a human-food processor with less than $1 million in revenues, and an animal-feed company with less than $2.5 million.
3. Preventive controls address five core areas. The FSMA will require you to have measures in place to either prevent or minimize potential food-safety hazards in five specific areas:
- Food allergens
- Supply-chain controls
- Recall plan
4. Foreign-supplier verification deadlines can be tricky. The deadline for importers to meet FSMA compliance is a potential pitfall because it’s not only unspecified, the first deadline could actually come earlier than your own compliance date if you’re defined as a small business.
The deadline for foreign-supplier verification is April 30, 2017 to meet the general compliance standard. If you’re a small business with less than 500 employees, however, there is no special compliance period specifically set for foreign-supplier verification.
Yet, when no specific deadline has been established, you’re advised to follow the general compliance rule. That means even if you have less than 500 employees, you should consider April 30, 2017 as the final date for having all of your foreign verifications in place.
What’s more, if you’re a very small importer with less than $500K in revenues, the FSMA has also set April 30, 2017 as the deadline to ensure foreign-supplier compliance. As a result, all food companies regardless of size should view April 30, 2017 as the official deadline to verify your foreign suppliers are safe.
GFSI Standards are the easiest path to FSMA compliance.
5. And finally, satisfying FSMA guidelines won’t be so daunting if you’ve already got GFSI standards in place. In fact, if you’re meeting GFSI schemes today, you’re already around 90%-95% there as far as FSMA is concerned.
There are many advantages to having GFSI certifications in your arsenal, and a smooth transition to FSMA compliance is one of the best.
Questions about FSMA compliance or GFSI certifications—or both? Let us know by completing the form below. We’re happy to provide you with the answers.