Since FSMA gives the FDA the authority to perform surprise inspections in addition to a set schedule, as well as increased access to records that indicate whether or not safety measures have been implemented, and high-quality food testing by third-party laboratories, ongoing compliance will be one of the most important aspects of the new regulations. These measures are designed to make food companies more accountable for enacting and recording the measures they take to ensure food safety. Keeping updated and accurate records is essential to properly complying with new regulations. These records should include pest control procedures, the schedule of inspections, the status of employee training, and improvements in sanitation.
The final piece of an effective pest management plan is the development and implementation of an action plan should a facility face an infestation. In the majority of cases, this will involve partnering with a pest management company to quickly and completely eradicate an infestation. Signs of a pest infestation are not always obvious to the untrained eye, but can easily be uncovered by professionals who are trained to look for such evidence. In an ideal world, facilities would never have to implement these response measures, but due to the risks pests pose to both public health and companies’ reputations, being prepared for the worst-case scenario is the best option.
The Bottom Line
The negative media coverage and loss of faith from consumers as a result of a Class I recall due to contamination can cause irreparable damage to a company’s reputation, as well as the food industry’s reputation at large.
As the U.S. food industry has a direct role in ensuring the safety of the country’s food supply, companies that fail to comply with FSMA will pay a heavier price than ever before. Between the potential shutdown of facilities, fines levied by the FDA, costs of a recall, and loss of future business, the risks of ignoring even one sign of a pest infestation are higher than any company can afford. Developing a preventative plan is far easier and more beneficial to all involved than relying on a crisis management plan after the problem arises.
By implementing proper pest management programs, companies are protecting the public from the harmful effects of pests as well as protecting the interests of their business. When prevention becomes the norm, the negative attention that is often directed at the issue of food safety failures will subside, allowing public confidence in the food industry to continue to grow. For these reasons, pest management, now more than ever, is a necessity within the food industry.
Dr. Fredericks is chief entomologist and vice president of technical and regulatory affairs and Henriksen is vice president of public affairs for the non-profit National Pest Management Association. Reach Dr. Fredericks at email@example.com.
Although the final implementation of FSMA was scheduled for June 2015, a recent agreement between the FDA, the Center for Food Safety, and the Center for Environmental Health set a staggered schedule for the following four regulations:
- Preventative controls for human and animal food: August 30, 2015
- Imported food and foreign suppliers and produce safety: October 31, 2015
- Food and fee transportation: March 31, 2016
- Intentional adulteration of food: May 31, 2016