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Point of View: Time to address FSMA requirements

Scott Zimmerman M.Sc., is a compliance specialist with  Safe Quality Seafood Associates in Miami
By Scott Zimmerman
April 05, 2012

Seafood businesses are questioning whether Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) benchmarked schemes will be able to address new compliance requirements of the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Businesses that have committed to a GFSI scheme (like the Best Aquaculture Practices or GlobalGAP) need to adapt in order to address some FSMA requirements. GFSI schemes require applicants to compare all governmental laws with the scheme and comply with the more stringent. 

Like FSMA, GFSI benchmarked schemes also require applicants to provide performance measures for risk-based assessments, sanitary transportation, internal audits and verification that the applicant employs accredited laboratories. While there are similarities, there are several areas of uncertainty in comparing FSMA to any of the GFSI benchmarked schemes. 

Food firms are still waiting for guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding new traceability requirements. FDA law presently requires “one up, one down” trace-and-track compliance measures, but FSMA’s comprehensive guidelines on traceability will undergo changes based on the findings of its pilot program. 

The second FSMA issue that will affect certified establishments will stem from new performance standards for preventing product adulteration. Both traceability and updated performance standards will also be influenced by FSMA’s upgraded requirements for record keeping. 

Finally, the FDA has been given the authority to charge fines through re-inspections and recalls. These funds are expected to support the agency’s struggling budget. For these reasons, businesses should seek consultation on addressing FSMA compliance gaps. 

Certification requires a serious commitment from senior management to adopt a new culture of food safety. Becoming certified is not an easy process; it is a paradigm shift from current food-safety practices. 

No one can afford to lose accounts and pay fines for delayed or rejected shipments. It has become vital for seafood businesses to develop action plans that address GFSI benchmarked schemes, sustainability plans and FSMA requirements to remain compliant and competitive.   


Zimmerman M.Sc., is a compliance specialist with Safe Quality Seafood Associates in Miami  

April 2012 - SeaFood Business

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