The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that each year 48 million people get sick from foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized and more than 3,000 will die of these causes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that this public health burden is preventable and is in process of implementing new rules and regulations.
The Importance of the FSMA
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) challenged the food safety practices that haven't changed since 1938 with new regulations focusing on microbial pathogen contaminations for producers of foods and the facilities that process these foods. The bill was signed by President Obama in 2011 in order to shift the focus from reacting to contamination to preventing it.
One of the goals of the FSMA is to ensure sanitary transportation practices which includes temperature control and monitoring. The shipper and carrier are responsible for utilizing a temperature monitoring device for shipments of foods that require temperature control for safety. In addition to the monitoring of critical temperatures, documents of the shipping temperatures must also be made available upon request.
The Safe Quality Food (SQF) rule is an extension of the FSMA that adds additional requirements. It requires shipping trailers to be clean, dry and odor-free, temperature-controlled trailers to be operating properly and at correct temperature and free of structural defects. Failure to meet these requirements can result in a disruption of the cold-chain.
The Focus on Seafood
In ordinance with the FSMA’s goal to head off contamination concerns before they become an issue, the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) concept has been established to require seafood processors to recognize food safety hazards that are likely to occur and to implement plans to control such hazards.
It is important for brands to gain and maintain trust of consumers. From 2015 through summer 2017, Chipotle had a number of food scares that has damaged their reputation among consumers. A recent study by USB evidence labs shows that “more than a third of those polled said they ate Chipotle food less frequently because of safety concerns”.
In addition to adhering to the FSMA regulations, taking action to prevent food contamination rather than waiting to respond to the aftermath is imperative to your company. In competitive markets, it’s too hard to regain customers that were lost due to breach of trust. Monitoring food products exposed to even temporary temperature deviations along the cold chain can be critical.