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    Food Safety Becoming More Critical to C-stores

    FSMA guidelines regarding food preparation impact retailers.

    NATIONAL REPORT -- The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law by President Obama on Jan. 4, 2011, has already begun to leave its mark. However, convenience store operators can expect it to become much more prevalent in 2012.

    The law was signed in an attempt to protect the 48 million Americans who get sick from foodborne diseases annually. According to the U.S. government, 128,000 of those people are hospitalized following exposure and 3,000 die annually.

    Although not every guideline within the FSMA affect c-store owners, several aspects of the law could matter at your store. Here's a look at some of those mandates:

    • Mandatory controls for food facilities: Food facilities are required to implement a written preventative controls plan. This involves evaluating the hazards that could affect food safety; specifying what preventative steps, or controls will be put into place to prevent the hazards; specifying how the facility will monitor these controls to ensure they are working; maintaining records of the monitoring; specifying what actions the facility will take to correct problems that arise.
    • Mandatory produce safety standards: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must establish science-based, minimum standards for the safe production and harvesting of fruits vegetables.
    • Mandated inspection frequency: The FMSA establishes a mandated inspection frequency, based on risk, for food facilities.
    • Records access: The FDA will have access to records, including food safety plans. Other aspects of the law dramatically increase your responsibility if you import food. For the first time, importers must verify that foreign suppliers have adequate preventative controls to ensure the food that is produced is safe. The FDA can deny entry into the United States any foreign food where the government agency is denied access by the country in which the facility is located.

    In addition, FSMA give the FDA the authority to issue a mandatory recall when a company fails to voluntarily recall unsafe food after being asked to do so by the agency. The FDA can also suspend the registration of a facility if it determines that the food poses a reasonable probability of serious adverse health consequences.

    To learn more about the FSMA and how it can affect you, visit www.fda.gov.

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