The implications of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) on the food and beverage industry can be categorized in two ways – direct and slightly indirect. The direct impacts are fairly obvious – required food safety plans, more site visits and higher scrutiny by regulators including the FDA, and more focus on regulating imports. While these direct impacts are incredibly important and worth monitoring closely, they do not show the whole picture. The ripple effect of the FSMA is far reaching and these indirect but powerful influences are reshaping the food and beverage industry.
The FSMA has clear impacts in black and white terms. Legislators, consumers, and manufacturers alike can read and understand the requirements. But the requirements, as powerful and persuasive as they may be, are merely words. What goes on inside the walls of food processing facilities or import warehouses is where the real change occurs. One very large industry-wide impact the FSMA is having on food and beverage manufacturers is the not-so-small notion of rethinking packaging.
The FSMA is centrally focused on preventing contamination. This simple idea has sent shockwaves through the packaging world, forcing food and beverage processors to consider their entire packaging line. Issues such as the need to switch from galvanized steel to the more aseptic stainless steel or the facility’s ability to sanitize packaging equipment have leapt to the front of every industry decision maker’s mind.
The Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI), the trade association made up of nearly 600 food and beverage manufacturing companies, is tracking the impact of the FSMA on the packaging of food and beverage closely. Many companies are being forced to rethink their packaging strategies, including line layout, equipment selection or replacement, and overall process. Jim Pittas, Vice President with PMMI, was recently quoted as saying the FSMA has created “a whole new design game” for food and beverage packaging. He noted that “clean design principles” are the dominating the conversation amongst good manufacturers, with the FSMA being the undeniable driving force.
In recent years, sustainability has been the hot topic in the industry, driving many conversations both internally and externally. That focus has shifted to the FSMA and the impacts it is having on the industry as a whole. Unlike sustainability which was largely voluntary, the food safety regulations will be a sink or swim effort for manufacturers. For many, they will rely on the expertise of consultants who can provide the deep bench of engineering solutions while navigating the shifting tides of the FSMA and its implications.
For more information on Woodard & Curran’s Food and Beverage Market and to learn more about the FSMA, food safety plans, and more, please contact one of our industry specialists.
Lloyd Snyder, PE, is a Senior Vice President with Woodard & Curran’s Food and Beverage Market. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Bill McPhail is a Senior Technical Consultant with Woodard & Curran’s Food and Beverage Market. He is HACCP and SQF certified. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.