How to Prepare for New FSMA Requirements
It is estimated that one in six Americans suffer from a foodborne illness every year, amounting to 48 million cases and 128 hospitalizations. To reduce infections and protect consumers, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) introduced the Food Safety Modernization Act over a decade ago. By tracking production and touchpoints, businesses would be able to identify contamination points and stop compromised inventory from reaching the dining table. While this proved highly beneficial, increasing inventory volumes and omni-channel fulfillment have placed a new demand for accurate and fast product tracking, especially for high-risk foods such as shellfish, nut products, meats, and ready-to-eat salads. Consequently, by January 20th, 2026, producers, distributors, and retailers are expected to comply with new FSMA Requirements by…
- Recoding Key Data Elements (KDEs) for products on the Food Traceability List.
- Matching and sharing records with Critical Tracking Events (CTE) as inventory is moving down the supply chain.
To meet compliance, businesses must be able to retrieve product information from the source of production within a reasonable timeframe, a task that becomes more complex as additional data is required. However, with insightful cross-referenced data, businesses can pinpoint potential hazards and within the supply chain and quickly trace infected foods back to the source of production. While companies have a little over two years to comply, they are encouraged now to revise data management systems to eliminate paper-based tracking as soon as possible.
Automation is Key
Serial numbers and tracking codes issued from the time of production can provide a seamless tracking system for ingredients and products. However, if recorded manually, you run the risk of manual data entry errors. Therefore, manufacturers and distributors are encouraged to automate data capture and sharing with:
- Barcode Scanning – Accelerate data capture without compromising accuracy with crisp barcode labels, designed to meet application and storage requirements. Custom labels like Zebra’s Certified Consumables allow you to tailor label size, adhesive strength, and surface composition to retain legible barcodes in multiple locations under different environmental factors.
- Mobile Computing – Scanned data can be easily stored and shared on mobile devices, giving teams instant access to pertinent data. Rugged enterprise computers can also consolidate scanning and computing in one device, further minimizing operational and maintenance costs. Whether on the production line, on the road, or at the back-of-the-store, scan and update data for a clear view of inventory movement.
- Intelligent Data Software – Automation solutions hinge on a balance of adaptable hardware and smart software to cut touchpoints. Systems like TrackRight can be configured to retain information normally needed for recalls and generate on-demand reports and standardized tracking, all while fitting into your upgraded devices.
While new requirements may seem overbearing at first, they are ultimately designed to protect what we care about most: our customers. To remove the hassles of implementing automation, consider meeting with a FSMA modernization team to define project goals and potential challenges. Equipped with a concise view of your workflows and specialized knowledge, businesses can automate product tracking to speed up fulfillment, adhere to compliance codes, and safeguard consumer loyalty.
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