A public-private alliance of industry, academic, and regulatory leaders is working to establish a standardized curriculum to help food companies comply with the preventive controls rules for human and for animal food required by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Although the final regulations on preventive controls for human food are not expected to be published until mid-2015, the work of the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA) is already well underway, according to members of the steering committee. The aim is to have the curriculum in place at the time the final rule is published.
“We’re very excited about this alliance,” says Jenny Scott, senior advisor in the Office of Food Safety of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “We think the FSPCA is developing a good curriculum, and it’s going to be very important as we go forward in moving the industry toward producing safer food products.”
The FSPCA was funded as a part of an existing grant to the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) that helps to fund the Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH), the entity that hosts the FSPCA. The FDA will also offer ongoing input as the curriculum is developed and will review the final product, Scott says, “so that it can become an FDA-recognized curriculum.”
The core curriculum and corresponding technical materials will be designed to help small- and mid-sized firms design food safety risk-reduction preventive controls that comply with federal regulations, says Purnendu Vasavada, PhD, outreach project manager for the FSPCA.
“Our mission is to support the FSMA requirements and help companies comply with those requirements to ensure a safe food supply. We will also provide additional technical information and serve as a go-to entity for industry to approach for help with FSMA compliance,” Dr. Vasavada says.
Available to All
The FSPCA was conceived soon after the FSMA was signed into law in 2011, according to Robert E. Brackett, PhD, vice president of IIT and director of the IFSH.
“At that time there was recognized need for an institute to help small- and mid-sized members of industry to achieve compliance with FSMA, and a decision was made to use the model of the Seafood HACCP [Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points] Alliance in terms of putting together the best thoughts from industry, academia, and government,” Dr. Brackett says.
“We think the FSPCA is developing a good curriculum, and it’s going to be very important as we go forward in moving the industry toward producing safer food products.”
—Jenny Scott, senior advisor, Office of Food Safety of the FDA’s CFSAN
“From that time we have been working toward designing a curriculum that will be available to anybody in the industry, focusing on aspects of the preventive controls rule that will help companies have what they need to fulfill the requirements for the qualified individual,” he adds. “Much of the work is already done, but we have to wait until the proposed rule is finalized so that our curriculum is completely in sync with what the rule says. The “qualified individual,” under the proposed FSMA rule, is to be responsible for preparing a company’s food safety plan, developing a hazard analysis, validating preventive controls, and other functions.
“One way a person gets to be a qualified individual is by successfully completing training in the development and application of preventive controls that is at least equivalent to that received in a standardized curriculum that is recognized as adequate by the FDA,” Scott explains, “That’s the crux of why the FSPCA was established.”
Training the Trainers
The FSPCA steering committee hopes to finish a draft of the curriculum in the third quarter of 2014, Dr. Vasavada says.