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New Regulation to Increase Food Safety

By: Nicole Reed, Communications Manager, MenuMax

With all the news about the current E. Coli outbreak I thought it would be a good time to talk about food safety. No diner wants to worry about becoming ill from food they eat while enjoying a meal out, so it is imperative that restaurant operators maintain strict food safety rules and practice the highest level of cleanliness in their establishment.

While browsing the Internet researching this topic I came across the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The FSMA was signed into law on January 4,2011. According to the FDA’s website this act seeks to “shift the focus of federal regulators from responding to contamination, to preventing it”. Fifteen percent of the total amount of food consumed in this country is exported from outside of the US. That number is even higher when you break commodities down like seafood, fruits, etc.

In order to make American’s supply safer, the FSMA mandates more foreign inspection, can refuse entry of products from any firm that refused foreign inspection, holds importers accountable for verifying their supply chain, and can require import verifications for certain high risk foods. To ensure safety regardless of original location, suppliers both domestic and foreign, must be registered with the FDA, have food safety plans and preventative controls in place to ensure proper handling and give full access to records.

So how will all this impact restaurants? When the FSMA takes affect the greatest way restaurants could feel the effects of this law is through the new recall rules. According to a post on the FDA’s blog, for the first time in history the FDA will have the authority to order a mandatory recall of all food products. “Up until now, with the exception of infant formula, the FDA has had to rely on food manufacturers and distributors to recall food voluntarily.” With the power in the hands of the FDA operators could see items that they use on their menus being recalled without any notice.

Though it is still unclear what kinds of impact this new law will have on restaurants, one thing is certain. Restaurants should pay close attention to the development of this ruling in order to ensure that their suppliers are following the new rules and that they themselves are on top of all new safety procedures.

For more information about the Food Safety Modernization Act click here.

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