Many food processing companies are changing equipment procedures to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rather than purchasing new equipment, according to a new report by the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies (PMMI).
“Most companies are NOT [sic] investing in new equipment or equipment upgrades because of FSMA. They are largely making procedural changes, such as how the manufacturing environment is organized, cleaned, and maintained; what people are trained on; and how activities are documented. Equipment purchases are usually made only when absolutely necessary,” the study said.
PMMI’s “2016 Food Safety Modernization Act Update Report” said that most food companies do not need to purchase new equipment to comply with the regulations, which were signed into law in 2011 and are enforced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “Changes to the cleaning processes and operations can often make up for machines less-than-ideal for food safety designs,” wrote the report’s authors.
Fruit and vegetable processing companies are most likely to purchase new equipment to comply with the FDA regulations, the report said. Respondents identified five equipment design features that are desired in new equipment to help comply with FSMA: Sanitary designs which eliminate bacteria growth; Equipment that is easy to clean, disassemble, and is composed of durable parts; Designs that provide ease of maintenance and access to worn parts and trouble spots; Robust data collection capabilities that can help optimize efficiency; and designs that are operator friendly, enabling safe and ergonomic operation on the factory floor.
“Since FSMA is performance-based and does not require specific equipment designs, preparation activities focus mainly on internal staff training on new procedures and protocols, establishing preventative control, and instituting more documentation,” the study said. “Drivers for new equipment are mostly business growth and creation of new projects – but designs and services must address current food safety objectives.”
Food companies told PMMI that they want Original Equipment Manufacturers, or OEMs, to offer consulting services and assist in carrying out risk assessments of equipment, enable connections of equipment to enterprise quality management systems, and test and validate equipment through third parties to demonstrate their ability to meet food safety needs.