Survey finds 75% ‘not completely ready’ for FSMA

Pie chart results from SafetyChain Software and The Acheson Group (TAG) survey

Three out of four survey respondents felt their companies were not completely ready for FSMA compliance, according to a survey by SafetyChain Software and The Acheson Group (TAG).

All companies felt there would be some difficulty in complying with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The last of seven major rules was finalised last month and compliance dates begin later this year.

The 2016 FSMA Readiness survey was done to better understand how prepared the industry is for it and what the impact will be on their organizations.

All companies felt there would be some difficulty associated with complying with the regulation.

There were 400 survey responders representing food and beverage companies primarily in the US and throughout the supply chain.

Survey rational

SafetyChain Software is a vendor of cloud-based food safety and quality assurance (FSQA) management tools.

Jill Bender, VP of marketing at SafetyChain Software, said it was the first time the survey has been done.

“The reason was all the rules have been finalised and the first compliance dates are looming. We see how prepared companies are and the interpretation of what preparedness is,” she told FoodQualityNews.

“We did it to add value to the ‘FSMA Fridays’ series which will continue. The rules compliance dates start from September and they go well into next year.”

Bender added it sponsors FSMA Fridays, which are monthly FSMA discussions with Dr David Acheson and The Acheson Group team, that have been running for more than three and a half years.

Summary of findings

Results included 85% indicating they understood which FSMA rules applies to their companies; however some companies should revisit assumptions based on answers to subsequent questions.

For example, many said they must follow Foreign Supplier rules, which were intended for foreign importers, not domestic companies; many also said they needed to follow Sanitary Transport rules, which will not apply to time-temperature-stable products.

A total of 75-80% of companies were considering or have in place already technology to assist with FSMA Compliance - such as audit management, supplier compliance, document management and food safety and program management but not all have confidence that those programs and systems will actually meet requirements.

Senior leadership needs more education about with FSMA, and what complying with its requirements will entail.

It found 66% have or are conducting a gap analysis to determine how current food safety plans meet requirements and 44% were unsure if they were going to have to hire more staff.

Bender said the findings were not a huge surprise but the largest surprise was that firms answered they felt prepared only for subsequent questions to suggest differently.

“It suggests some were not sure when it comes to understanding which rules apply to their companies, with survey data indicating a higher level of uncertainty amongst smaller companies.

"While emphasis with FSMA has been around compliance and being audit-ready, a large percentage of survey respondents indicated they felt FSMA will have a positive impact on food safety."

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