A look at FSMA and the products to help ensure compliancy for the refrigeration contractor
It seems with the ever changing regulations regarding refrigeration, sometimes it is hard to keep up with the requirements. On top of ever changing SEER ratings and refrigerant restrictions, it can become a daunting task to ensure that you have the right solution for your customer’s compliancy needs when it comes to monitoring and recording refrigeration temperatures.
What is FSMA?
President Obama signed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) into law in January 2011. The law followed a series of severe outbreaks of foodborne illness and was a response to the significant burden these outbreaks impose on the U.S. each year. The economic losses to industry, including farmers, are enormous – estimated at $75 billion per year.
FSMA reflects the need for a modern, global food safety system that prevents problems rather than primarily reacting to them after they have occurred.
Following the multi-state 2015 outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes tied to a prominent ice cream brand, Michael R. Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, wrote in the blog, FDA Voice, May 2015, http://1.usa.gov/1EjYg4V, “Ultimately, the only way we will achieve the goals that we are focused on – the goals that consumers expect us to achieve and that industry wants us to reach – is if we have a system in which industry is systematically, every day, putting in place the measures that we know are effective in preventing contamination.”
FSMA 2016: How will it affect you?
New laws were recently passed for 2016 to bolster the 2011 FSMA Act. This will affect the industry with the first deadline for compliance for large companies (more than 500 employees) slated for 2016, and then 2017 and 2018 for smaller companies (fewer than 500 employees).
The mandate is broad and far-reaching in its overhaul of food safety, and is beyond the scope of this article. The complete regulatory guidelines can be found on www.fda.gov. To break it down for simplicity, FDA-registered food facilities, manufacturing facilities and processors must:
- Establish and maintain food safety systems that include a Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls (HARPC) plan.
- Verify the controls are effective by monitoring, testing, taking corrective actions and document the outcomes.
- Maintain risk-based supply chain programs for raw materials and ingredients and provide cGMP education and training to their relevant employees.
So that means, anyone who serves food, processes food or stores food for human consumption must electronically monitor and record the temperatures for compliancy – not only are these temperatures now required to be recorded electronically to avoid (human error) but there must also be a corrective action piece that documents any temperature spikes such as when a cooler/freezer goes down in the middle of the night.
Storing, receiving and holding foodrelated items at a temperature that prohibits bacterial growth is a necessity for facilities in their HACCP/HARPC plan.
Processing facilities that invest in a temperature monitoring system benefit in the following ways: eliminates manual labor, streamlines the collection of environmental data, provides custom reporting, and complies with the new FSMA laws and FDA rulings. Wired solutions can be costly and messy or even impossible to install without shutting down resulting in revenue loss. With new technology solutions, wireless monitoring systems are now affordable and in many cases self-installable, making it easy for you to ensure your customers are compliant.
Patti Ellingson is director of industrial sales for the HVACR Industrial Division at Cooper-Atkins Corp., www. cooper-atkins.com. In this position, she develops business working relationships with wholesale distributors, manufacturer reps and HVACR educational organizations and buying groups, located in Middlefield, Connecticut. She is also immediate past president of Women in HVACR. Ellingson has an extensive background in sales, business development and marketing within the HVACR industry since 1993. She is active in the HVACR industry as a member of HARDI, Women in HVACR, AHRI, ACCA and USGBC. She is focused on the issues of innovative food safety and indoor environmental solutions, indoor air quality and energy efficiency within the industry.