Food Safety Update: Regulatory Compliance

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This article first appeared in the July/August 2013 issue of Food Manufacturing.

The Food Safety Update section of Food Manufacturing is designed to offer our readers insight into the state of food safety concerns across the industry. We received hundreds of responses to this month’s survey on regulatory compliance.

Food manufacturers operate in a highly regulated industry, and navigating these regulations can present significant challenges to plant managers. The results from this month’s survey on regulatory compliance, however, illustrate an overwhelming approval of the regulations governing the food industry. As seen in the chart at right, a sizeable majority of readers report a belief that food safety regulations are a “good fit” for the industry, and the number of respondents who report a need for more regulations slightly outpace those who feel over-regulated.

These responses are typical of responses to questions about the state of regulation in the food industry as seen in previous surveys. Food Manufacturing readers also report an overwhelming support for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) — 84.9 percent believe it will improve food safety across the industry. Further, 92.8 percent of Food Manufacturing readers say they believe “HACCP is a useful tool,” and 87.6 percent of readers support the provision in the FSMA expanding required HACCP planning beyond meat, poultry, seafood and juice to the entire food industry.

This response comes despite 69.3 percent of readers reporting making changes to their facilities’ HACCP plans as a direct result of the FSMA. And though the industry overwhelmingly supports these regulations, respondents only narrowly report (50.6 percent) a belief that “the FDA is providing enough guidance to prepare food manufacturers for the new requirements under FSMA.”

Changing regulations are just one of many factors resulting in a change to HACCP and other food safety plans. Food manufacturers report the following factors impacting food safety planning decisions:

  • New equipment purchased—70.4%
  • Changing regulations—68.8%
  • New products being processed—65.2%
  • Discovery of a better/more efficient way of doing things—64.8%
  • New ingredients being used—53.0%
  • Prompting from auditors—44.7%

When updating HACCP and other food safety plans, food manufacturers report consulting a variety of resources, as shown in the graph at left.

The results of this survey demonstrate that food manufacturers are committed to meeting the new food safety regulations because they understand the importance of a robust food safety program and support U.S. policies to help industry achieve it. This support comes despite reported adjustments and impacts on food processing operations due to new regulations, suggesting that food manufacturers continue to put the safety of the food supply ahead of their own interests. As consumers of food products as well as food industry professionals, food processors have a vested interest in a secure food supply.

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