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What the FSMA Means for Small Businesses in the Food Industry

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The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was passed in January 2011, with changes added in 2015. It is a sweeping reform to make food safety laws better in the U.S. The FSMA calls for better responding to foodborne illness threats, and contamination prevention regulations. However, all of the changes are going to be hard for small companies, such as snack makers, to implement in the timeframe set out by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This could mean bankrupcty for many food companies.

Outbreaks in listeria, bird flu, and other foodborne illnesses are on the rise. Consumers are demanding that better processes be in place to prevent the spread of these illnesses. The FDA set forth the FSMA as regulations for the food industry. However, the regulations are costly and will take a lot of time for small businesses to implement.

Lawyer Martin Hahn told BakeryandSnacks.com, “I think they’re (small companies) going to have a very difficult time because of resources available to develop other plans needed to get through FSMA, and then to be able to have the financial resources to hire somebody to do the additional monitoring once you do the bulk of the plan. FDA will be, in my view, patient initially but as time progresses the agency loses patience and they expect everybody to rise to the same level.”

Many small businesses in the food industry simply do not have the funds to make the changes set forth by the FSMA. In two years’ time, these small players will not be able to compete in the market because they will not be within the regulations of the FSMA. The FSMA requires businesses to add environmental monitoring to their manufacturing and processing lines to prevent foodborne illness. This additional manpower costs money. Products must have strict testing, and extensive prevention plans, too. All of this will definitely present a challenge to small businesses.

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