Editor's view: Are you as self-assured as the 61% of U.S. food and beverage professionals that feel confident their organizations are prepared to meet the increasingly strict requirements of the FDA’s FSMA in 2016? Share below.

A recent survey conducted by Sparta Systems Inc. (spartasystems.com) an industry pioneer and global leader in enterprise quality management software (EQMS) solutions, found that 61% of U.S. food and beverage (F&B) professionals feel confident their organizations are prepared to meet the increasingly strict requirements of the FDA’s Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2016.

The first reform of food safety laws in more than 70 years, FSMA aims to shift the focus from responding to contamination of food supply to preventing it  – and nearly half (43%) agreed that the regulation will ultimately increase visibility and safety throughout the supply chain.

Respondents from large or enterprise-level organizations were particularly certain in their organizations’ readiness for FSMA’s Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP), which requires importers to perform risk-based tests to verify that foreign-manufactured food or food ingredients are as safe as those produced in the U.S.

Despite the industry’s optimistic outlook, the survey also revealed a lack of automated systems for managing compliance across the supply chain: More than a third (38%) said their organizations manually track, manage and report food quality and safety, while 56% of respondents classified processes as partially automated. Only 7% reported fully automated systems.

“After FSMA was enacted in January 2011, and raised the industry standard for food safety, F&B companies saw a 41% increase in warning letters issued by the FDA as a result,” says Brandon Henning, director of Industry Solutions at Sparta Systems. “FSMA regulations only stand to get tougher and more complex, which could prove particularly challenging for those managing compliance through manual or hybrid systems. It is critical now for organizations to adopt sustainable methods, such as EQMS solutions, that will ensure visibility into the food quality and safety processes of all suppliers and contract manufacturers.”

Additional findings of the survey include:

  • Nearly 20% of respondents from medium-sized companies disagreed that their organizations were ready or had a clear strategy to be compliant with FSMA.
  • An overwhelming majority (93%) of respondents with job functions related to Quality Assurance agreed that supplier visibility is important to their organizations.
  • More than half of respondents (60%) believe “improved supply chain visibility” would help improve food quality and safety.
  • Additionally, 37% believe automation of quality and safety processes would yield a positive impact.