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Navigating Food Safety Regulatory Changes

22 Jul
Food safety resources

Food Safety

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A wider reaching global supply chain exposes our food—and those companies within the food supply chain—to increased risk. As a result, food companies are operating in an increasingly complex world with changing regulations and requirements that require careful monitoring and review. Like many industries, the global pandemic not only complicates many facets of operations, it has also impacted many regulatory and certification requirements.

The following websites provide excellent resources for companies within the food industry to stay on top of the latest regulatory and certification changes. Our advice? Bookmark these sites, sign up for automated emails, and take advantage of the resources available to companies to help navigate the ongoing changes.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)

This USDA FSIS Regulations, Directives & Notices site gives users access to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)), Federal Register (FR), FSIS Directives, and FSIS Notices. Users can sign up with an email address to receive the latest news from USDA and FSIS. These email updates include recall alerts and FSIS directives and notices. This allows users to be “in the know” instantly and to keep ahead of changing regulations. 

The “AskUSDA” and “AskFSIS” features, located on the USDA FSIS homepage, further allow users to look up common questions or submit any question to USDA or FSIS for answers. These features offer a quick turnaround, with responses provided by specialized USDA/FSIS employees.

  • AskFSIS: Find answers or ask questions on inspection-related polices, programs, systems, and procedures.
  • AskUSDA: Find answers or ask questions about safe food handling at home or food safety in general.

The USDA’s dedicated COVID-19 site breaks down information by topic area, including food supply chain, to answer frequently asked questions about COVID-19.  

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

The FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) impacts every aspect of the U.S. food system, from farmers to manufacturers to importers. Keeping up with changes to the FSMA rules is vital. Users can sign up for automatic emails from the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) to receive updates, including regulatory changes and recalls. Users can select settings for what product(s) they would like to receive notifications. 

Users can also research and submit questions related to FSMA to the Technical Assistance Network (TAN). Inquiries are answered by FDA Information Specialists or Subject Matter Experts, based on the complexity of the question. Responses are usually timely, based on the complexity of the question. 

In addition, FDA has a dedicated COVID-19 site. To see the latest COVID-19 information from FDA related to the food industry, select “Food & Beverages” from the drop-down “Topic” menu.

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR)

The e-CRF is a currently updated version of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). It allows users to look up all sections of the CFR. CFR is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the departments and agencies of the Federal Government produced by the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) and the Government Publishing Office (GPO). 

Regulations.gov

Regulations.gov provides an online resource for users to find, review, and submit comments on federal rules that are open for comment and published in the Federal Register.

Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)

The GFSI News & Resources section directs users to articles, publications, videos, and news releases on topics related to GFSI and certification.

Beyond that, as GFSI states on their website, “the pandemic has fundamentally affected the management and assurance of food safety in all retailers and manufacturers, globally. We recognise the COVID-19 outbreak continues to create audit restrictions, which has an impact on the certification status of certain sites.” As such, GFSI has created a COVID-19 site to keep companies abreast of certification requirements in light of changing needs and demands. Users can also enroll to receive the GFSI newsletter to stay updated on the latest updates from GFSI.

For resources related to each of the GFSI-benchmarked standards, users can visit the following sites:

Managing Requirements

There are many great resources available to stay current on the latest regulatory changes and requirements. However, just knowing the requirements is not enough—companies need to be able to manage them to ensure compliance.

Technology-enabled business solutions can help simplify this task. Compliance efficiency tools and document management systems allow companies to:

  • Maintain standards, programs, and regulatory requirements in one place
  • Outline a plan for meeting each requirement
  • Create alignment and consistency between different standards and requirements
  • Update requirements as regulations—or company operations—change
  • Provide a compliance calendar and tracking to manage and monitor compliance activities

Technology solutions can be instrumental in establishing or improving a company’s capability to efficiently and effectively manage compliance and business processes.  

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