Pet food institute helps prepare U.S. pet food makers for new safety law.
Food safety regulations
Consumers in the United States enjoy one of the safest food supplies in the world, and pet lovers can rely on the safety of pet food with intensive regulation at both the federal and state level.
In 2007, the U.S. government began to focus on making further improvements to the food safety system and, in 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law. The final legislation included pet food under its purview. The Pet Food Institute, whose members make 98% of all U.S. pet food products, are committed to food safety and continuous improvements in this regard. As such, we have been an active and vocal participant in the FSMA rulemaking process since it began, and with implementation beginning shortly, PFI is focused on preparing for FSMA compliance and enforcement.
Enforcement of rules
FSMA will impact pet food in three ways: a shift toward food safety regulation that focuses on prevention, rather than reaction; a new authority for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct facility inspections and confirm FSMA compliance; and a stronger focus on ensuring that the safety of imported foods meets U.S. food safety standards.
FDA’s enforcement of FSMA rules will be on a staggered timeline. The immediate deadline under FSMA is a September 2016 enforcement for Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs). By September 2017, pet food makers will have conducted a full analysis of hazards, whether those hazards could occur naturally or be unintentionally introduced, and have established preventive controls to mitigate those hazards. PFI has conducted multiple webinars and meetings to prepare pet food makers to comply with FSMA and we are active in the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA), a coalition working to develop and deliver a standardized curriculum to assist the food industry in meeting the 2017 implementation deadline. Comprised of industry, academia and government stakeholders, FSPCA is developing compliance aids and additional assistance for small- and mid-sized food companies.
Importing pet food
In addition, FSMA will require U.S. importers to verify that the food they bring into the country is as safe as food produced domestically under FSMA.
Pursuant to the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) final rule, importers must evaluate multiple factors, such as the foreign suppliers’ food safety history and any supplier providing raw or ingredient material. Verification activities can include on-site audits of facilities, sampling and testing, and a review of the supplier’s food safety records. The FSVP final rule was published in November 2015 and entered into force in January 2016, and compliance and enforcement deadlines are dependent on company size. PFI is providing guidance to members on compliance with this important rule.
A clear understanding of FSMA among both PFI members and FDA will be essential when compliance and enforcement activities commence later this year. Product safety is a top priority for PFI members, and helping facilitate FSMA implementation is an added opportunity for PFI to support long and healthy lives for cats and dogs.
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