Food Safety’s the Law

 

Federal authorities have recommended that the owner of Peanut Corporation of America spend the rest of his life behind bars. The owner, Stewart Parnell, was found guilty of 71 criminal counts after his company distributed salmonella contaminated peanut butter that killed nine people and sickened some 900 others. Parnell is slated to be sentenced in September in federal court.

Food safety is the law. The owner, operator, or agent in charge of a domestic or international food facility is required to develop a safety plan for any food facility that is subject to FDA regulation to assure that food sold or distributed by that facility is safe for conusmers. An owner or operator who fails to do so can subject themselves, and his or her company, to fines and prison.

More importantly, a food safety plan assures that food distributed by a FDA regulated facility does not sicken or kill consumers. (Dead or sick customers are never good for business – just ask Blue Bell Creameries).

A food safety plan must be a HARPC plan. HARCPC stands for “Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls.” A HARPC plan identifies food safety and adulteration risks associated with foods and processes, it implements controls to minimize the risks and verify that the controls are working, and it designs and implements corrective actions to address any deviations from the controls that might arise. Everthing that takes place as part of a HARPC food safety plan must be properly documented and must conform with FDA standards

There are certain exemptions for very small businesses, but most food will originate in or come through facilities that are subject to the requirement of having a HARPC based food safety plan. Companies must create their HARPC plan, update it as required by law, and produce the documentation to the FDA upon request. It’s required, and its good business.