The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law earlier this year by President Obama, represents the biggest change in food safety regulation since 1938 and affects everyone on the supply chain, according to David Acheson, MD, managing director, food and import safety practice, Leavitt Partners, Salt Lake City, UT. Dr. Acheson, a former associate commissioner for food at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), was among three presenters who recently spoke on “Early Results from CPG Companies Complying with FSMA” at Pack Expo 2011 in Las Vegas, NV.

FSMA is more focused on prevention than reaction to food safety issues, Dr. Acheson said, pointing out that it virtually mandates companies use a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) program to protect their products from unintentional as well as intentional hazards.

Leon Bruner, DVM, PhD, senior vice-president for scientific and regulatory affairs and chief science officer for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, said FSMA gives enhanced enforcement powers to FDA, which in turn could lead to significant fees for food manufacturers.

Greg Flickinger, vice-president of manufacturing and corporate engineering, Snyder’s-Lance, Inc., Charlotte, NC, talked about developing a food safety culture at manufacturing plants. He discussed how companies must have negative consequences if employees do not follow through with food safety initiatives.

Mr. Flickinger said companies must provide knowledge to their employees through education and training. “If you create a desire, people will come asking for the information,” he added.

FDA currently is writing regulations as part of the law, and a final rule on the foreign supplier verification program is expected in January. The agency also is in the process of setting up pilot programs for inspections, which are to occur more often at high-risk facility than those deemed low-risk.