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How Does the Food Safety Modernization Act Impact Food Retailers?

This is the third post in a five-part series on food safety throughout the month of September.

Food retailers need to understand changing regulations that impact their businesses. Today’s operators are faced with regulatory updates around energy management and refrigerants, as well as what many are calling the most sweeping reform of food safety laws since the last change was enacted in 1938.


The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law in 2011, aims to better protect U.S. public health by strengthening the food safety system. This law enables the FDA to focus on preventing food safety problems, rather than relying primarily on reactive processes after problems occur.

FSMA affects five key areas, including:

  • Mandatory comprehensive, prevention-based controls for food facilities
  • Inspection and compliance to provide oversight and respond effectively when problems emerge
  • Authority to better ensure that imported products meet U.S. standards for food safety
  • Recall authority for all food products
  • Enhanced partnerships and collaboration among all food safety agencies

So, what does FSMA mean for food retail facilities?

As the regulations address the entire supply chain, not all provisions of this legislation apply to food retailers.  But retailers should review the law and its provisions because it places specific responsibilities and accountabilities on supply chain participants for actions and validation of processes.  Thus, grocers will need to work collaboratively with their food suppliers and transportation carriers to ensure that all suppliers are aware of what’s needed for food safety compliance. Some information that may be of highest interest to retailers includes:

  • Procedures to assure that facilities and vehicles used in processing and transport did not allow food to become unsafe or altered.
  • Documented food processing and transport safety programs.
  • Verification that supply chain employees were adequately trained on proper, safe temperature management during processing and transport.
  • Temperature monitoring and reporting that demonstrate food was processed and transported under safe temperature conditions.

As this legislation is new, how it will be enforced is yet to be seen.  Communication, collaboration and training among retailers and their supply chain partners will be essential as developments continue.

With FSMA, there is an increased importance on collecting and utilizing data, especially product temperatures, to ensure that food remains fresh and safe from the farm to the manufacturer to the store, and then into the hands of the consumer. Record keeping is a key component for FDA compliance, so retailers and their supply chain partners will need to ensure accurate, efficient documentation to verify the integrity of their foods.

As food retailers work to comply with industry regulations like FSMA, Emerson can serve as a trusted partner. Our retail facility solutions, including integrated controls and remote monitoring, can assist with preventive management of facility systems to address potential food safety issues before they affect the product in stores. Emerson’s transportation and cargo solutions also can help to provide consistent, safe monitoring and control of temperatures of food and other sensitive goods at critical points throughout the cold chain.

To follow the latest updates on FSMA, retailers may reference the FDA website. For more insights on changing regulations impacting retailers today, watch this E360 webinar recording.

Look for the next post in this series to learn more about integrated solutions to help retailers keep foods fresh – and safe – throughout the cold chain on the journey “from farm to fork.”

 For more than 20 years, Emerson Retail Solutions has been helping businesses like yours safeguard food, reduce energy consumption, protect the environment and optimize business results. To learn more about our technology solutions and services for retailers, visit our website.

Dean Landeche
Vice President of Marketing
Emerson Retail Solutions

To read all posts in our series on food safety for retailers, click on the links below:

  1. Food Safety Remains a Top Priority for Retail Businesses
  2. Prevent Food Safety Issues with Remote Monitoring Services
  3. How Does the Food Safety Modernization Act Impact Food Retailers?
  4. Food Safety Throughout the Cold Chain “From Farm to Fork”
  5. Seven Transportation Monitoring Best Practices to Ensure Food Safety


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