Understanding Compliance for Your Ingredient Supplier: FSMA

Understanding Compliance for Your Ingredient Supplier: FSMA

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Each year in the United States, roughly 48 million people get sick from preventable foodborne diseases; these types of contaminations not only threaten public health but can significantly damage a business’ reputation.

Getting your ingredients from a certified and compliant supplier means producing higher-quality food, reducing your risk of food recalls, and earning the trust of your consumers.

This is why quality and safety certifications like the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) and Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) are crucial across your supply chain. In addition to certifications, the FDA established the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) as a set of food safety regulations to better protect public health. When you find an ingredient supplier who is compliant with FSMA, you know they have a strong commitment to the safety and quality of their products.

In this post, we’ll discuss the FSMA and why it’s essential to work with a supplier who complies with its regulations.

What is FSMA?

The number of people getting ill as the result of food contamination is a threat to public health. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was passed by congress in 2011 as a response to the potentially outdated practices in food safety that were causing these health risks.

While the act was passed in 2011, the final regulations were developed carefully and gradually, and the first deadlines for compliance didn’t arrive until 2016. FSMA policies, largely related to preventative measures and inspection schedules, are now well established in the food industry, governed by the FDA.

How Do Suppliers Become Compliant?

FSMA is a complex program and remaining compliant often takes the assistance of partners and experts. In other words: Food suppliers don’t have to go it alone.

There are some specific practices that ingredient suppliers and food production companies must maintain to stay compliant, including:

  • Establishing and implementing a food safety system that incorporates hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls — these must include a written food safety plan, monitoring, corrective actions and corrections, verification, and other plans for recalls and record-keeping.
  • Keeping up with standards for produce-growers that introduce science-based growing, harvesting, and packing rules that reduce the chances of contamination.
  • Following new criteria for the safe transportation of food for people and animals — standards for the upkeep of vehicles, training, and record-keeping have been updated to reflect new FDA expectations.
  • Verifying that all food imported into the United States has been produced and handled in a manner that would be considered acceptable in this country — the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) was established to help with this. Certified importers check imported food for quality and safety.

How Do I Make Sure My Suppliers are Compliant?

It’s the responsibility of your suppliers to prove their FSMA compliance, but it’s in your best interest to check that they are in line with these standards — not just because today’s customers care more than ever about quality food products, but because you reduce your own risk of selling contaminated products.

You can ensure the ingredients you source are high quality by learning which questions to ask suppliers. FSMA is very document-heavy, so your suppliers must have proof of their efforts. In order to find out if they are FSMA compliant, ask them about their specific practices. Do they require their shipper to provide a detailed list of all FSVP information in their packages? What are their plans for handling FDA inspections?

Even better, work with a company that serves as an FSVP, like Seawind Foods. As a certified FSVP, we take on the responsibility of importing food from high quality producers with safe and well-documented processes. We ensure that the ingredients you receive have been produced and packaged according to FSMA guidelines.

How Seawind Foods Ensures Ingredient Quality and Safety

Getting your ingredients from a supplier who is FSMA compliant is crucial to quality control, but it needn’t add any more steps to your processes. At Seawind Foods, we do all the hard work for you, so you can feel confident that the ingredients you receive exceed the most stringent standards for quality and safety. We check that our suppliers are FSMA compliant and we carefully review their audits to be clear about their practices.

Seawind Foods is also the official FSVP for importers who need to have their products checked for public health safety. Not only that, but we work with producers who are HACCP-certified, and most are also certified with GFSI. With Seawind Foods as your trusted ingredient supplier, you’re guaranteed to receive ingredients from certified producers.

Understanding supplier certifications is one of the best ways to ensure that you provide safe food offerings to your customers and maintain your company’s highest standards. Contact Seawind Foods today to learn more about our commitment to quality, or to order a sample of our delicious ingredients.