One thing that doesn’t change under Food Safety Modernization Act (F.S.M.A.) regulations is the liability that managers bear for keeping their facilities clean and their foods safe for consumption.
“What has changed is the way it’s done,” said Robert Brackett, Ph.D., vice-president and director, Institute for Food Safety and Health at the Illinois Institute of Technology. “First, you need documentation of food safety programs, but second, F.D.A. will be paying attention to the food safety culture within the facility.”
In other words, is food safety a true priority, extending from the top manager through to food safety staff and line operators, or is it just lip service? F.S.M.A. rules spell it out clearly.
“The site executive or manager will ultimately be responsible for the hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls, and the rule requires that this person sign these documents referred to as the company’s food safety plans,” said Cornelius Hugo, manager, global innovation, at AIB International. “F.S.M.A. regulations put the responsibility for day-to-day food safety requirements squarely on the site manager and supervisors,” he added.The law has teeth, too. It gave the Food and Drug Administration new legal authority to undertake criminal trials with managers deemed to have neglected food safety issues in their plants. To date, the F.D.A. has carried out 14 criminal cases. Recently, the agency successfully prosecuted executives and managers from Peanut Corp. of America for allowing pathogen-contaminated peanut butter to enter the market. These individuals received lengthy jail terms. That’s a lesson everyone should know.