PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has warned the US food industry that 2012 will be “all hands on deck” to implement the provisions of the Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA).
The global professional service firm is currently working with food industry clients in the US to ensure the requirements of the newly-enacted act, which was signed into law by President Obama in January 2011, are being met.
The law, which provides the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with increased enforcement authority, was designed to ensure the safety of the US food supply by shifting federal regulator focus from responding to food contamination to preventing it.
PwC advisory manager for food safety Melanie Neumann told FoodQualityNews.com that the US food industry is focusing on three main areas of improvement, adding that the firm’s presence in emerging economies such as Eastern Europe and China has increased as the demand to meet US regulations has intensifies.
Food defence plans
“The next year will be busy through the provisions of the Food Safety Modernisation Act. It will be all hands on deck in 2012 to manage the implementation of the Food Safety Modernisation Act,” said Neumann.
“We are seeing companies within the food industry focus on three major areas at the moment.”
Improvements to supplier verification, internal audit programmes and an increased focus on brand protection have been the main focus for many companies, according to Neumann.
“The first is working on improving supplier verification programmes,” she said.
“Another area is the improvement of internal audit programmes to ensure that quality and food safety standards are met. There has also been a lot of revision around brand protection. Food safety is a means to achieving brand protection.”
“People are becoming more aware of food defence plans at facilities, as well as economically motivated adulteration - known as food fraud.”
“There is growing awareness around food fraud; it is an issue that companies shouldn’t ignore,” said Neumann.
Neumann added that PwC is working with an increasing number of clients outside the US to ensure their products meet US import regulations.
“We are [working with more clients outside the US]. They come to us to check their programmes are in line with US regulations.”
“We are going to be seeing more efforts to meet international harmonisation in the next year.”
Earlier this year, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report that appeared to show a rise in foodborne disease outbreaks caused by tainted imported food in 2009 and 2010.
The CDC review added that almost half of the implicated foods originated in Asia – an area PwC has increased its food safety presence.
“The Food Safety Modernisation Act impacts beyond US borders,” added Neumann.
“It has certainly impacted our clients in the US as well as clients abroad. Our aim is to help clients build supplier programmes to help manage the risks highlighted by the CDC report.”