Everything that comes into contact with edible products has the potential to cause foodborne illness and even death. This includes manufacturing equipment, primary and secondary containers, storage facilities and shipping methods. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has published food packaging regulations that work to minimize those risks and these regulations can profoundly affect food packaging methods. As modern shipping methods make it easier to transport edible products around the globe, enforceable, standardized safety practices become even more critical to human health.
Goals of Food Packaging Requirements
Food packaging and documentation regulations put out by the FSMA are in place to ensure that all edible products are safe to transport, store and consume. According to the FDA, one in six Americans is affected by foodborne illness each year. These statistics only scratch the surface of the need for enforceable food packaging regulations. Outbreaks of salmonella, listeria and toxoplasma as well as foodborne illnesses caused by chemical additives, microbes and other unspecified agents have resulted in over 3,000 deaths, nearly 128,000 hospitalizations and 47.8 million illnesses within the United States in 2011 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Clearly, there is a need for food packaging regulations in the food packaging, shipping, and manufacture industries.
Benefits of Food Packaging Regulations to Manufacturers
On the surface, additional regulations and documentation requirements may appear to be an added burden on the affected industries. Certainly there are added expenses. Refrigeration, sterilization, documentation, and corrective measures cost money. At the same time, however, these actions work to prevent potential lawsuits that can result from foodborne illness. Due to the negligence issues related to foodborne illness, punitive damages can become a huge financial burden. In addition to preventing financial loss through lawsuits, the improved sanitation and food packaging practices stipulated in food packaging regulations also provide consumers with the assurance that your products are safe, increasing the likelihood of increased sales.
Basics of Food Packaging Regulations
While in no way conclusive, the fundamental aspects of the FSMA food packaging regulations include the following safety plan:
- Hazard analysis: Identification and evaluation of known and reasonably foreseeable hazards
- Preventive controls: Identification and implementation of process controls, allergen controls, sanitation controls, and a recall plan
- Monitoring procedures: Ensuring that preventive controls are implemented and documented consistently
- Corrective actions: Steps to be taken when preventive controls fail, to evaluate consumer safety, prevent unsafe products from entering the marketplace, and make necessary corrections
- Verification: Monitoring preventive controls and documentation to ensure their effectiveness
- Record keeping: A written food safety plan that includes all of the above
Food packaging, manufacturing, shipping and sales firms as well as consumers will all benefit, in the long run, from FSMA’s food packaging regulations.