The recent food service act revisions and new regulations brought forth significant changes to food service safety programs. The food safety modernization act (FSMA) and the real-time safety compliance for food services act (RTCSA) were introduced to strengthen the nation’s food safety system, regulate food service practices and set up guidelines for food safety and hygiene. Both acts are designed to enhance and protect the public’s health, safety, and preparedness for food service. While these acts may seem unimportant, these acts together represent major advancements in food safety regulations.
Both acts were designed to strengthen the nation’s food safety system by requiring operators to follow defined procedures, establish effective training for staff, and create a hazard analysis and reporting plan. However, the first act requires food service operators to ensure they perform these procedures and reporting requirements on a consistent basis; the latter one allows facilities to track their compliance status on an ongoing basis. Both acts affect all aspects of the food service industry, and new and improved regulations have the potential to affect nearly every facet of the food industry.
The food safety act is designed to reduce risks to consumers and to promote food safety. It contains several new regulations that could affect food service operations and provide much-needed guidance to operators. The real-time safety compliance is intended to make information about food safety and process improvement easily and quickly accessible to owners, processors, retailers, franchisees, and other food service operators.
According to critics, the FSMA and RTCSA may actually create problems for food service operators, and they warn that the FDA’s efforts to improve safety for food processing and distribution have unintended consequences. They argue that the FDA’s NPTDS may not accurately identify all problem areas and may create more problems by requiring agencies to spend resources collecting and analyzing data that will not be useful to managers or personnel in a decision-making capacity.
In its announcement, the FDA stated that it had taken the position that the NPTDS will provide important information for decision-makers to improve food safety and quality and will continue to monitor implementation of the NPTDS. However, the agency stated that it will continue to collect and analyze data collected under the NPTDS and will make statistical analyses based on those data to determine whether the improvements made through NPTDS are having an effect on regulatory change management for food service operators.
In addition, the FDA stated that it would continue to issue standards and notifications required by the act to ensure that processors and suppliers are complying with standards established by the act.
However, the association noted that its opinion is not shared by every industry expert that was consulted. It stated that the revised standards will affect food service equipment suppliers and processors differently and will not necessarily have a negative impact on the safety of the products or services provided.