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2022 might have been labeled as the year of a triple whammy. The continuing COVID-19 pandemic (though waning down in certain regions and countries), the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and ensuing climate change characterized by floods, hurricanes, and elevated temperatures – all this may portend a market filled with anxiety and uncertainty. However, in our opinion, food safety, hygiene, and sanitation are emerging as even stronger forces in the U.S. and global markets thanks to lessons learned from the past year.
In terms of North American food safety regulations, 2022 witnessed the following key developments:
The 2021-2022 U.S. Cronobacter outbreak led to 4 hospitalizations and 2 deaths. This was traced to contaminated infant formula products manufactured at a processing facility where unacceptable process controls and insanitary conditions were observed. Facility plant closure resulted in a baby food shortage in the U.S. In response, the FDA put out an outline strategy to help prevent future Cronobacter sakazakii illnesses associated with powdered infant formula.
Salmonella an Adulterant
On Aug. 1, 2022, USDA-FSIS declared Salmonella as an adulterant in breaded and stuffed raw chicken. These product categories are generally found in the freezer section in retail stores. The regulatory announcement is important because according to the CDC, over 23% of Salmonella infections are attributed to consumption of contaminated poultry. Moreover, since 1998, such raw products have been associated with up to 14 outbreaks and approximately 200 illnesses.
U.S. Retail Program Standard
On the regulatory retail food side, a new U.S. Retail Program Standard version was published. These Voluntary Standards provide a foundation upon which all regulatory public health programs may build on their existing programs through a continuous improvement process. In addition, the standards are intended to reinforce proper sanitation and good retail operational practices while encouraging regulatory agencies and establishments to focus on the factors that cause and contribute to foodborne illness. The goal, of course, is to significantly reduce the occurrence of those risk factors.
Our northern neighbor, Canada, witnessed a full transition to the implementation of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (an equivalent to FDA’s FSMA rules and provisions), which all eligible Canadian food businesses must comply to. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, 1 in 8 Canadians are affected by foodborne diseases annually, and acute bacterial foodborne illnesses alone are known to cost the economy close to $1.1 billion per year. One of the requirements for food businesses is to have a written and effective Preventive Control Plan, which must also include hygiene and sanitation, among other programs.
Food Traceability Final Rule
On Nov. 15, 2022, the FDA published the Food Traceability Final Rule on requirements for additional traceability records for certain high-risk foods. The final rule is a key component of the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint and implements Section 204(d) of FSMA. The new requirements should allow for faster identification and rapid removal of potentially contaminated food from the market, resulting in fewer foodborne illnesses and deaths. Although the requirement by entities to share information with others in their supply chain comes into immediate effect, the compliance date deadline for all persons subject to the recordkeeping requirements is Jan. 20, 2026.
In 2023, we should expect the following in the world of food safety and hygiene:
Ninth Allergen Added
Sesame is the ninth allergen added to the list of the U.S. Big 8 (i.e., soy, wheat, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts), and companies are expected to comply to additional sesame labeling and allergen management requirements by Jan. 1, 2023.
FSMA Final Deadlines
U.S. FSMA Final Rules are in effect, and compliance dates have passed for almost all of them. Some other compliance date deadlines to look out for are on:
FSMA Produce Safety Rule for: Compliance Date Deadline:
Other Produce - Very Small Farms (remaining water requirements)
Large Farms - Non-Sprout Produce (agricultural water requirements)
Small Farms - Non-Sprout Produce (agricultural water requirements)
Very Small Farms - Non-Sprout Produce (agricultural water requirements
Jan. 26, 2022 (already passed)
Jan. 26, 2022 (already passed)
Jan. 26, 2023
Jan. 26, 2024
BRCGS Audit Certifications
British Retail Consortium Global Standard (BRCGS) for Food Safety Issue 9 Revision (one of the popular GFSI-benchmarked food safety management system standards) was published on Aug. 1, 2022. Among the key changes are the inclusion of food safety and quality culture development and the enhanced focus on hygienically designed facilities and equipment. Audit certifications to the new standard will begin next year starting Feb. 1, 2023.
Remco wishes you all happy holidays and a prosperous 2023, and for many more years to come. As a Vikan company, we also look forward to celebrating its 125th year providing innovative cleaning and hygiene products. For more information, please feel free to contact us.
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