William F. Balistreri, MD

Disclosures

February 08, 2016

In This Article

Corporations' Role: Standards, Expectations, and Penalties

The new FSMA rules are intended to make companies more accountable for preventing contamination of their products, ensuring that tainted foods never reach consumers. Industry has traditionally responded promptly to catastrophic outbreaks; however, an ongoing, day-to-day effort to adhere to best practices and standards practice is required.

Under FSMA, processors of all types of food will now be more fully accountable for evaluation of the hazards in their operations. They will be required to implement and monitor effective measures to prevent contamination, and to have a plan in place to take any corrective actions that are necessary.

The report of multistate foodborne outbreaks by Crowe and colleagues[10] emphasizes that food industries can effectively prevent or limit the size of outbreaks by making food safety a core part of company culture, and by meeting or exceeding new food safety regulations and standards. The report also notes some of the measures that companies can undertake to improve food safety, such as maintaining records that enable the rapid tracing of foods and using only those suppliers that apply best practices to food processing.

The consequences of a mistake for producers/manufacturers range from stock deflation to a complete shutdown of companies implicated in a widespread recall. As a reflection of this vested interest, Chipotle responded to the recent E coli outbreak by making a substantial effort to regain the confidence of consumers and regulators. The company recently unveiled revamped food safety procedures to ensure the integrity of their supply chain via more stringent guidelines for its suppliers and broader DNA testing of produce, pledging a "farm-to-fork assessment" of every ingredient they use.[30]

The serious consequences of noncompliance were proven by the recent administration of the toughest punishment in US history for a producer implicated in a foodborne illness case. Former Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell and colleagues were sentenced to a total of over 60 years in federal prison after a jury convicted them of knowingly shipping out Salmonella-contaminated peanut butter and hiding the evidence. The resultant Salmonella outbreak sickened 714 people in 46 states and may have contributed to nine deaths. The illnesses ultimately prompted one of the largest food recalls in US history.

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