FSMA Training: Who Does It?

Among the first questions being asked about the new FSMA food safety rules is who’s going to handle training?

FSMA’s requirements for hazard analyses and detailed Preventative Control plans to minimize food contamination are but two of many substantial responsibilities for food companies and producers that will require extensive preparation and training. These rules extend beyond the companies themselves to the diffuse supplier segment of the food chain, where budgets for safety training traditionally have been limited.

With FSMA’s rollout continuing this year (the new regs for transporting human and animal food products were just released), training is becoming Priority #1 throughout the industry. Fortunately, FDA planned ahead on this aspect of FSMA, and the result is an alphabet soup lineup of alliances, partnerships and cooperative agreements involving government agencies, academia and the businesses themselves. Avoiding the pitfalls of “one size fits all,” the FDA is offering training by broad industry segment, as well as specific areas of the food chain, such as produce. There’s even an alliance devoted specifically to sprout safety.

For food manufacturers and processors, the key training alliance is The Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA). Coordinated by the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute for Food Safety and Health, FSPCA is developing a standardized training and education program and technical information network to help the domestic and foreign food industry, including certain mixed-type facilities on farms, comply with the requirements of the Preventive Controls rules for human and animal food, as well as the forthcoming rule on Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP). This work includes developing:

  • Two separate standardized hazard analysis and preventive controls training courses and distance education modules—one for human food industry and regulatory personnel and another for animal food industry and regulatory personnel.
  • A training curriculum that addresses:
    • resources for and preliminary steps in developing a food safety plan,
    • types of hazards, conducting a hazard analysis, preventive controls for hazards,
    • monitoring preventive controls, verification and validation, and corrective actions/corrections,
    • recordkeeping, and regulatory requirements.
  • Two separate Train-the-Trainer courses for those interested in helping to train food facilities—one course for human food and another for animal food.
  • A module on the forthcoming FSVP rule for processors who import foods, and a full FSVP course for non-processor importers. The Alliance is also encouraging all importers to take the complete Preventive Controls training.

Alliance-developed materials will be publically available for use in training activities and as benchmarks for others developing equivalent curricula. In addition to these alliances, the FDA is supporting a variety of alternative training programs for specific industries or segments, as well as cooperative agreements, such as one with state departments of agriculture to help implement the industry’s new Produce Rule.

Much more information is available online. Companies wishing to get a head start on compliance are advised to ramp up their training programs (and budgets) ASAP.