In Session
Introduction to Modern Food Safety

Food safety update: Tools and resources for organic operations

In 2011 President Obama signed the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which Gwendolyn Wyard from the Organic Trade Association calls “the most sweeping reform of our food safety law in more than 70 years.” In this informative session, learn more about the rules facing the industry today, valuable resources and what it takes to be compliant in the current world of organics.

“A food safety issue is really about brand protection; if enough problems occur, it could taint the entire industry.”

—Jim Topper, marketing development manager, Neogen Corp.

Part 1: How FSMA rules affect organic products, processors and importers

Highlights from Ram Balasubramanian, COO, Quality Certification Services (QCS):

  • No. 1 goal is to make sure products coming into the U.S. are handled at the same level as those here.
  • For producers and facilities in the U.S., a third-party audit is not required.
  • It’s a good idea—though not required by the FDA—to have a written food safety plan in place; it’s an effective communication tool.
  • Good news! There are now eight additional testing methods for agricultural water (vs. one in the past).
  • U.S.-based importers must conduct a hazard analysis and verify their supply chains (FSVP).

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Part 2: A voice from the field

Highlights from Javier Zamora, Owner, JSM Organics:

  • Nonprofits and certifiers like CCOF are helpful resources for small growers.
  • “We’re not out there to make a lot of money: we’re there to grow food for ourselves and families around us.”
  • It’s a collaborative effort with the rule makers and law enforcers; crew member education is also important.

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Part 3: Food safety tools and resources for organic food producers

Highlights from Jim Topper, marketing development manager, Neogen Corp.:

  • Catch a food safety issue before it becomes a serious problem and endemic in your facility.
  • Sanitation monitoring is the core of any food safety program.
  • Meet the U.S. “big eight” food allergens and the components of a food allergen control plan (ACP).
  • GMOs (and drift) are an obvious issue for the organic industry, even though the FDA doesn’t regulate their use.
  • Whole genome sequencing and NGS: new technology that can extend shelf life and reduce food waste.

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Part 4: Q&A

Highlights:

  • Small growers can take advantage of the flexibility in the FDA rules.
  • United Fresh and Product Marketing Association are two groups working with growers to shape regulations and offer support.
  • Sanitization as it applies to the National List (from NOP) and the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI).
  • Listeria testing issues.
  • Wildlife management issues on the farm.
  • FSMA audits vs. other audits.

This session—Food Safety Update: Tools & Resources for Organic Operations—was recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2018.

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