• Important Contacts: Users input information for relevant internal or external con-
tacts for a company.
• Supporting Documents: Include outside documentation in FSPB or include direct
Help and Support
FDA has done its due diligence upfront with the user guide and on-screen instructions. The Help button in the toolbar takes users directly to the user guide. As
listed on the website, you can also contact this email for further support:
FoodSafetyPlanBuilder@fda.hhs.gov. FDA has even created an excellent You Tube
playlist for video training. 4
Verdict and Recommendations
This tool is simple and effective. It does not allow flexibility but is a great basic
way to achieve FSMA compliance and will lay the groundwork for small and very
small companies to continue building on their food safety systems. It is probably
most helpful to those operations starting from scratch: small and very small companies.
It is important to remember that if companies already have systems and software
in place, they may need to assess their needs and be sure all systems integrate well.
Those companies that have a compliance date overdue or coming up should get
their information put into this free software as soon as possible, as a food safety plan
is the best bet for FSMA compliance when FDA inspectors visit.
Do What You Say
Another challenge that very small food companies face is accurately conducting internal auditing and verification of monitoring methods. Most very small
companies, and even a high percentage of small companies, are owner operated.
The owner, who wears many hats (CEO, COO, etc.), is also actively involved in
producing the food product. The question has been asked many times, “How can
I comply with verification and internal auditing if the person who conducts the
monitoring or produces the product cannot audit or verify their own records?
Will I now have to hire an external person/company to do this for me?” This adds
another layer of expense to very small and even small businesses. It is amazing the
amount of product that a food manufacturing company can produce with fewer
than five people, even two people. Food entrepreneurs are some of the hardest-working individuals.
FSMA was a much-needed update to FDA’s food manufacturing regulations.
Implementing change is never easy, even though it is necessary. With the new FSMA
rules and the necessary changes they require come unintended consequences to certain segments of the food industry. The small food business category was scheduled
to be under compliance inspection beginning in September 2017. The feedback will
be interesting and hopefully helpful to the very small food companies trying to figure out how they can become compliant by September 2018. n
Shari Plimpton, Ph.D., is vice president and director of food industry programs at CIFT.
Gina R. (Nicholson) Kramer, RS/REHS, is executive director at Savour Food Safety International Inc.
Tara Riley is director of food safety and quality assurance at Savour Food Safety International Inc.
Elise Forward is president and principal consultant at Forward Food Solutions.
unique initiative that, in addition to directly strengthening technical capacities
in recipient countries, has the further
benefit of improving understanding and
relationships between participants and
their respective governments.
A Vision for the Future
The Americas have enormous
natural wealth, a productive agricultural sector and a rich culture of family
farming, making it one of the world’s
leading food producing and exporting
regions. IICA’s work in food safety will
be complete when all consumers both
expect and have access to healthy food.
To achieve this goal, IICA’s network
of AHFS specialists will continue to
develop and implement projects that
strengthen national food safety services,
build food safety leaders, strengthen
technical capacities and ensure a fair,
transparent, science-based international
In addition to ongoing initiatives,
emerging issues such as the World
Trade Organization Trade Facilitation
Agreement present many challenges
and opportunities for countries in the
Americas. Improved border controls
and reduced transaction times can profoundly affect global commerce, and
techniques like risk-based sampling hold
much promise. However, without the
meaningful engagement and involvement of all actors in the food supply
chain, these developments will serve
only to expand the gap between domestic and export food safety systems. The
success or failure to develop a robust,
global food safety culture rests on effective collaboration between the public
and private sectors. As the specialized
organization within the inter-American
IICA will continue to lead and support
this effort. n
Robert G. Ahern, Ph.D., leads Agricultural Health
and Food Safety at IICA ( www.iica.int/en/projects/
agricultural-health-and-food-safety-ahfs). He can be
contacted at email@example.com.
GLOBAL FOOD SAFETY