“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).
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.
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.
Part 4: Q&A
- 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.