- Every food and beverage company will have to determine what aspects of its production, risk prevention, recall procedures, and documentation processes it needs to update reach full FSMA compliance, though all start out at different levels, Jack Payne, vice president of product management and solution consulting at Aptean, wrote in Food Manufacturing.
- Companies may not have needed to have certain ingredient tracking or recall protocols in place, such as manufacturers of a product that's at low recall risk. These companies will need to develop and integrate entire systems that work within their current business models to maintain profitability while meeting the new FSMA regulations.
- Other companies will already abide by many FSMA requirements and instead need to only fill in the gaps. These might be better or automated tracking of ingredients from suppliers or more formalized documentation of many of the safety processes they have long had in place.
Whether a company has to develop an entirely new system or fill in the gaps, the key prerogative for all manufacturers will be documentation. A company could have a proven track record of safety for years or decades, but it won't matter to an FDA inspector if those processes aren't properly documented. For many companies, documentation will be the primary challenge, especially for those who haven't had to deal with this level of safety-oriented scrutiny in the past.
Recent surveys show conflicting opinions about the industry's readiness for FSMA compliance. One recent survey reported that about 61% of U.S. food and beverage professionals said they feel their organizations are prepared to comply with FSMA regulations this year. Another survey brought that number down to 25%, with 68% saying they were "somewhat ready."
Being that companies have been at varying levels of compliance with the new regulations for some time, it's not surprising that many manufacturers feel uneasy, even if they have proven safety track records. But FSMA's requirements for preventive measures and documentation could help any company improve visibility and transparency within their operations.