Martin Hahn, partner at Hogan Lovells and the Snack Food Association’s (SFA) legal counsel, said FSMA was complex for companies of all sizes but particularly tough for smaller firms.
“I think they’re going to have a very difficult time because of resources available to develop other plans needed to get through FSMA, and then to be able to have the financial resources to hire somebody to do the additional monitoring once you do the bulk of the plan,” he told BakeryandSnacks.com.
“FDA will be, in my view, patient initially but as time progresses the agency loses patience and they expect everybody to rise to the same level."
Hahn said the FDA remained on track to finalize FSMA regulations this year and would likely leave one year for large firms to adopt rules and two years for smaller players.
Act now, not later
Under FSMA regulations, Hahn said snack makers would have to conduct more product testing and increase environmental monitoring, as well as introduce validation steps to many processes.
“I don’t think there’s any particular aspect of FSMA that’s going to be tougher; it’s a holistic approach,” he said.
However, he said snack makers would have to start implementing changes now, rather than waiting, if they were to be FSMA-ready when regulations came into play.
“There’s a lot (industry) can do today. We know the framework that is there and so they can start working on that; working either internally to get the education needed or with outside consultants and approach this in an incremental way so when the final regulations are issued, they are 85-90% there.”
Record keeping vital
Hahn said companies should ensure records are kept on everything because under FSMA, the FDA would spend much more time looking into these.
“I can’t impress upon you enough the importance of good record keeping, so when FSMA becomes operational you’ll be in a much better position,” he told attendees at Snaxpo 2015. “If it’s not documented, it didn’t happen.”