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With Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) implementation looming, the food industry, including supermarkets, must figure out the best ways of complying with what Greg Ferrara, VP of public affairs at Arlington, Va.-based National Grocers Association (NGA), calls “the most sweeping reform of American food safety laws in more than 70 years.”
FSMA’s regulations will affect the entire food supply chain, including food production, distribution and retail sales. As this issue went to press, the Food & Drug Administration had issued three additional final rules covering produce safety, foreign supplier verification and third-party auditor certification.
Some observers believe that the industry hasn’t been doing enough to prepare. According to John Rand, SVP market insights at Wilton, Conn.-based Kantar Retail, “[A] certain number of retailers and suppliers seem to be waiting too long to begin to do the obviously needful things that will be required.” Once they do make the required changes, however, they’ll be amply rewarded. “In the long run, the benefits, in shopper trust and in vendor protection from both real and legal harm, are incalculable,” Rand says.
Ferrara acknowledges the challenge that food safety presents. “Nowadays, it is not enough to know who you are purchasing products from, but rather, you have to consider the source and whether that company has high food safety standards that are enforced,” he says. “Food safety is and has been a top priority, but recent outbreaks and recalls, along with the implementation of FSMA, have likely helped raise the profile and importance of food safety throughout the entire supply chain.”
According to Ferrara, “FSMA’s largest impact will be on wholesalers and self-distributing retailers, which includes quite a few independents.”