Food Business News - August 30, 2011 - (Page 16)

Accountability at the heart of new food safety law COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. — As development and implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act progresses, Joseph A. Levitt, a partner in the Washington, D.C., law firm Hogan Lovells U.S., urged members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association to avoid complacency and begin preparing for the requirements of the new law. Mr. Levitt spoke during the G.M.A.’s Executive Conference, held in late August at The Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs. “This law is fundamentally a good law,” he said. “It is something that is and should be embraced by the food industry, and it will ultimately enhance the safety of the food supply. The biggest danger any food company can place themselves in is to be complacent. Anyone who thinks they have always done a good job and they are going to be fine is making a mistake.” Noting that many aspects of the F.S.M.A. have been discussed at length since the passage of the law in January, Mr. Levitt chose to focus on portions of the law he considered to be less well understood by food manufacturers, specifically those portions of the F.S.M.A. that relate to accountability. “This law is the most significant law in food safety that is happening in our New enforcement tools will enhance the F.D.A.’s ability to develop a prevention-based system lifetimes,” he said. “It is going to be a big, big change.” While records access during inspections is not new to the drug or medical device industries, Mr. Levitt called the practice a “whole new world to the food industry.” “This is going to be more like a tax audit than an F.D.A. inspection,” he said. “They (F.D.A.) are going to know what you did, when you did it and how you reacted. They will want to see your corrective action files, they are going to want to see your HACCP plans, and they are going to want to see the justification for your HACCP plans.” Mr. Levitt encouraged audience members to go back to their companies and ensure their company’s records are organized. “If an inspector came in and said ‘I want to see your corrective actions for the last two years,’ could you produce them? Do you even know where they are? After you find them, read them yourself. What do they look like? Are they comprehensive, are they complete?” Adding that the F.S.M.A. is about prevention and documenting prevention, Mr. Levitt said the requirement for companies to scientifically verify their procedures and actions will take accountability to a whole new level. It is not just their own actions that food and beverage companies will be accountable Records access and organization will be critical to complying with the Food Safety Modernization Act. for once the F.S.M.A. is fully enacted. Companies also will be accountable for the procedures and programs used by their suppliers. “You all have a document system in place that shows you are providing oversight of your suppliers; that they are doing what they are supposed to be doing,” Mr. Levitt said. He added that for industry suppliers the responsibility is going to be exactly the opposite. They will be required to show prospective customers that they have adequate systems in place to assure the quality of their products. Calling F.D.A. enforcement actions “clubs,” Mr. Levitt said the F.S.M.A. gives the agency several new ones. “While mandatory recall gets all of the attention, nobody in this room is going to be subject to a mandatory recall, because you will have the opportunity to do a recall voluntarily,” he said. “That is the way it has always been. I am not worried about mandatory recall. What you should be worried about is the (F.D.A.’s) ability to suspend your registration.” Officials with the Department of Homeland Security realized as they were attempting to assess credible threats to the United States’ infrastructure that in order to establish adequate food defense plans they would need to know where food is manufactured. As a result, all companies that manufactured food and beverages were required to register. Now that registration is a license to do business under new powers granted to the F.D.A. through the F.S.M.A., Mr. Levitt said. “The F.D.A. can yank that license, and once they yank that license you are out of business that day,” Mr. Levitt said. “Now it is an extraordinary power and there are safeguards in the law. It can only be used if it is an overt safety hazard that is equivalent to a Class I recall, which doesn’t happen very often. Procedurally, it can only be done by the commissioner, which means there are many checks along the way before an issue reaches that point. But nevertheless it is an extraordinary power. “I don’t expect to see it (used) a lot, but someone is going to get it, and you don’t want it to be you.” Noting that it is good news there are no 16 FOODBUSINESS NEWS ® August 30, 2011

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Food Business News - August 30, 2011

Food Business News - August 30, 2011
Web Contents
Editorial - Food itself plays major role in demand for food
Private equity group acquires Minnesota-based candy company
F.D.A. seeks more comments on phytosterols
MegaMex acquires Fresherized Foods
Nestle updates nutrition labeling system
OpenGate Capital to acquire Dean Foods facility
Walgreens launches Nice! store brand
Hormel Foods earnings up 15% in quarter
With charges, Heinz income down 6% in quarter
Consumers dissatisfi ed with frozen meal portions
Kraft cutting coffee prices 6%
California Pizza hires G.J. Hart as president, c.e.o.
Accountability at the heart of new food safety law
General Mills, Batter Blaster win G.M.A. innovation awards
Rowland acquisition boosts Smucker earnings
Coca-Cola, partners to invest $4 billion in China
July milk production up 0.8%
Washington - ' Fit for Life' bill targets childhood obesity
Soaring egg prices, egg products still rising
Health and Wellness - From digestive health to weight management
Ingredient Innovations - Tropical assistance
New Product Trends - Natural, low-calorie refreshment
New Food Products
INGREDIENT MARKET TRENDS - Statistics Canada forecasts record canola crop
Ingredient Markets
Supplier Innovations and News
Ad Index
Food Business in the News
Feature - Hormel Foods earnings up 15% in quarter
Feature - Natural, low-calorie refreshment
Feature - Soaring egg prices peaking, egg products still rising

Food Business News - August 30, 2011