Food Safety is Everyone’s Job No. 1 – Including Ours

tosca-plant-safety-protocolFood safety isn’t just something regulators, food producers and purveyors worry about; the average American also knows the safety of our food supply is critical.

Food that is “free from harmful elements” was a top priority for 62 percent of consumers recently surveyed by Deloitte Consulting, the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Food Safety News reports.

Consumers also said they want “clear and accurate” labeling (51 percent), and clear information on ingredients and where they come from (47 percent). The survey results speak to consumers’ growing awareness of — and concern over — just where certain ingredients in their foods come from.

Regulatory response

Regulators and the food industry have both long known — and acknowledged — that food safety regulations needed updating. The last time the federal government issued food safety regulations was back in 1930. And although many companies have voluntarily been following best practices in food safety, everyone recognized the value in having those standards formalized through regulations.

Enter the Food Safety Modernization Act, which President Obama signed into law back in 2011. Some significant provisions of the act went into effect in September 2016. According to the FDA, the act has five key elements:

Prevention – Rather than focusing on detection of and response to food safety issues, as was the FDA’s focus in the past, the administration is now required to take steps to help prevent safety problems.
Inspection/compliance – The FDA will be responsible for conducting inspections to ensure industry players are compliant with the act.
Import safety – Anyone importing food into the U.S. will have to prove they have preventive controls in place to ensure food safety, and the FDA will be able to commission third-party auditors to verify that compliance.
Greater recall authority – Until now, the FDA could only ask for a food recall, although most stakeholders have voluntarily recalled product when asked to. Now, the FDA can order a recall.
Better cooperation – The regulations require the FDA to help promote greater collaboration among federal, state and local food safety agencies and officials.

Taking the lead

The FDA has consistently acknowledged that many in the food industry are already following best practices to ensure food safety. At Tosca, we’ve made food safety a priority even though we are not directly regulated by the FSMA. Our Food Safety Management System evaluates hazards and mitigates risk applicable to the servicing of reusable packaging. This tailored approach paired with accredited certification provides our customers with a food safe product alleviating FSMA compliance concerns for them.  At Tosca we’re raising the bar to ensure our customers remain in compliance with the use of our packaging.

The risks to supply chains are not just regulatory in nature. Globalization creates challenges and risks that our customers need to manage. The nature of the industry is that managing those risks is a responsibility best shared among stakeholders. Food safety is everyone’s business, even those of us not directly responsible for the production and handling of foods for public consumption.

That’s why Tosca has been proactive in implementing formal food safety systems. Through ISO, an organization that creates standards to ensure products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality, we have selected ISO 22000 – a scheme that provides guidelines for food safety management.ISO 22000 and ISO 22002-4 account for hazards through the entire process from pest control and sanitation, to recall and Environmental Monitoring. ISO 22000 and ISO 22002-4 are the two base components of FSSC 22000, a GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) recognized scheme. This food safety system has been benchmarked at a global standards level and complies with all applicable FSMA requirements.

Subsequently, we’ve achieved certification to this Food Safety scheme from a third-party accredited certification body. This certification verifies the Food Safety Management System is fully implemented and effective to the requirements of the standard. Further, our auditors are certified and the broader Certification Body (CB) is internationally accredited assuring quality, holistic audits and certifications.

Our processes achieve multiple goals, including:

– Ensuring the materials used in making our RPCs are safe for use with food.
– Ensuring our cleaning processes achieve optimum reduction of biological, chemical and physical hazards.
– Supporting the food safety efforts of every customer we work with.

Although the FSMA does not specifically refer to RPCs or the reusable container industry, the Reusable Packaging Association has performed due diligence to ensure the industry has best practices to guide us.  While regulation for our industry may be far off, we believe it makes good business sense — and is morally the right thing — to do our part to protect the safety of the country’s food.