Preparedness Is The Name of the Game

As the mid-September deadline for compliance with Food Safety and Modernization Act mandates for Preventative Controls for Human and Animal Feed draws near, QA and facility managers are dotting the “I’s” and crossing their “T’s” on their checklists and making sure their employee training programs are documented and verified.

Tim Gallagher, Director of Accounts for Sprague Pest Solutions, and his team is busy providing clients with employee training and risk assessments to make sure food processing facilities are ready for inspection by U.S. Food & Drug Administration personnel.

“We are telling clients and their staffs to get ready to become a defender of your facility when it comes to pest threats,” says Gallagher, who feels attitudes are changing as the first FSMA deadline approaches and management better understands what is expected of them.

Next month’s deadline will impact very large food processing and ready to eat food companies with smaller companies (less than 500 workers globally) having additional time (one to two years) to meet new FSMA mandates.

Key elements of the mandates include documented food safety training for plant employees and the ability of the FDA to conduct unannounced inspections and to immediately shut down a facility should circumstances warrant.

“The expanded FDA powers for unannounced inspections and closure and recall powers are the most immediate and significant outcomes of the mandates,” says Gallagher.

Gallagher cites a recent case where FDA officials made a food processor recall a product that was on the shelf in every Costco in the United States as an example of the administration’s expanded powers.

The new mandates also impact food packaging manufacturers that make everything from milk cartons to carry out containers. Sprague is working with these facilities – most of which have never been subject to a pest or food safety audit before – to install a verifiable pest defense plan.

He recommends clients have Sprague Pest Solutions conduct a risk assessment of their facility to identify possible pest threats or areas that are most susceptible to pest activity. The assessment will allow clients to take action on any pest issues and document what was done to correct the problem. 

“Most plants that are subject to third-party audits already meet the standards and simply need to verify and document that the training has been completed,” says Gallagher.

Sprague’s experienced team of pest management specialists is also offering customized in-house training and practice audits for clients.

Gallagher say the FSMA mandates regarding pests cover the usual suspects – rodents, flying insects, cockroaches and stored product pests – but include a special emphasis on birds because of the threat their droppings present to food contamination.

When asked what his recommendation to food processors would be for preparing for the FSMA mandates, Gallagher says it is to make sure you and your employees have undergone the training and that once you are up to speed, stay up to speed going forward.


Food Processing & Manufacturing, Restaurants