Fred Hayes

By Fred Hayes

Increasingly, today’s national consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs) are finding it essential to harmonize equipment standards and safety regulations in their facilities around the world.

This need for “global machinery,” i.e., machinery that meets EN/ISO standards for the European Union (EU), South America and the Pacific Rim, becomes even more pertinent as international governmental regulatory bodies are increasing financial penalties and enforcing existing standards. Even more so, they are placing the burden for risk assessment and enforcement on CPGs themselves.

In the United States, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) is moving toward more rigorous enforcement of existing regulations. To support this effort, OSHA’s budget for fiscal 2011 includes funding to hire more job-site inspectors while simultaneously moving compliance assistance inspectors to enforcement positions. OSHA plans to perform 42,250 site inspections in the 2011 fiscal year-2,250 more than in fiscal 2010. OSHA has also announced much steeper fines for violations of existing standards-as much as triple for repeat offenders.

However, even with a large increase in inspectors and a push toward compliance, OSHA will not come close to visiting every work site in the United States in a year. So new initiatives from OSHA, and similar ones from the EU, encourage manufacturers to self-govern, making them liable for compliance long before site inspectors ever set foot in their facilities.

Given the new industry focus on enforcement of existing standards and steeper fines for compliance failures, it is now more important than ever for food and beverage brand owners to develop their own risk assessment standards for global compliance. Performing inspections at regular intervals to ensure compliance with self-imposed risk assessment standards can do much to mitigate the prospect of costly penalties levied by outside inspectors. By closely collaborating with their chosen packaging machinery manufacturers, brand owners can achieve unified standards across their global networks.

PMMI has created educational opportunities to help companies all along the processing and packaging supply chain, from OEM to CPG.

In September, the final session in PMMI U’s 2010 Regulations and Standards Webinar Series will focus on Food Safety Regulations and the Global Supply System. The Sept. 21 webinar will specifically address a new bill, currently under review, that includes requirements for foreign supplier verification activities, a voluntary qualified importer program and the inspection of foreign facilities registered to import food. This webinar will help brand owners understand what the new law will mean for their businesses and how the law incorporates hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls, qualified certifying entity, conformity assessment and tracing systems. Registration cost is $125 ($95 for PMMI members).

To gain an overall education on food safety standards, PMMI is collaborating with BNP Media to debut the Food Safety Summit Resource Center at Pack Expo International 2010, Oct. 31–Nov. 3 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. This special area of the show will give brand owners an opportunity to learn from leading food safety experts about breakthroughs, challenges and solutions needed to ensure the safety of packaged foods before, during and after processing and packaging. Register for PACK EXPO International 2010 at Brand owners interested in learning more about PMMI’s Regulations and Standards Webinar Series or the 2010 Safety Conference should log on to PMMI’s website:  F&BP

Fred Hayes is PMMI’s director of technical services.