While the U.S. benefits from having one of the safest food supplies in the world, the CDC estimates that foodborne illness still sickens nearly 48 million people per year and accounts for over 3,000 deaths. In response, the “Mitigation Strategies to Protect Against Intentional Adulteration” (IA) rule was established by the FDA in accordance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
The goal is simple but imperative: prevent intentional contamination intended to cause wide-scale public harm, including acts of terrorism targeting the food supply.
Until now, food defense activities have been completely voluntary. With the enforcement of the IA rule, companies are now required to develop a Food Defense Plan. Both domestic and foreign food facilities must assess their operation to determine points where products or ingredients are vulnerable to contamination; then they are tasked with developing and implementing mitigation strategies to eliminate or reduce the risk at said points.
The compliance dates are looming. The deadline for large facilities is July 26, 2019, while small businesses that employ fewer than 500 people have until July 27, 2020, to comply.
Whether your facility is big or small, record-keeping is essential (and obligatory) for the written vulnerability assessment, mitigation strategy breakdown, and subsequent training documentation.
Translation: to be compliant, you will have to do away with your sticky notes, spreadsheets, and reliance on one employee’s tribal knowledge and instead invest in workforce management technologies that keep your information centralized.
Location, Location, Location
The documentation of your Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls (HARPC) should be so easily accessible that it follows the 24-and-2 rule. Companies must be able to produce required documents for the FDA within 24 hours, for any records going back for up to two years prior to the request.
You can imagine how hard it is to do that if your vulnerability assessments and training program schedules are shuffled within stacks of papers on your desk.
Keeping your information in the cloud is a great solution, as it provides enterprise-wide transparency—and valuable information doesn’t accidentally end up in the trash. If you’re resistant to software integration due to monetary or security concerns, then you might feel like the IA rule is forcing your hand. But think of it this way: the cost of implementation is negligible when you compare it to a misdemeanor charge or lawsuit, and cloud technologies are inherently more secure as they are designed for easy integration.
By leveraging a workforce management software like Indeavor, your food processing facility can be equipped with a cloud-based qualification management system (QMS) that easily integrates into your existing platforms.
How does that help your facilities stay compliant with the IA rule?
Centralized Skills Management Makes Auditing a Breeze
With Indeavor’s QMS function, you can ensure that you are assigning only qualified workers to each position at the plant. This is because the system tracks qualifications automatically with a simple-to-digest skills matrix.
This level of skills-based scheduling allows you to account for FSMA training when you’re creating a roster since you’ll have up-to-date notifications for who is compliant with what. Not to mention that such visibility will come in handy if there is suspicion of foul play, as the system will have the accurate employee roster for the shift (yes, even in cases of employee swapping).
The Indeavor Solution
Our workforce management SaaS solution which offers clients an end-to-end, cloud-based employee scheduling, time & attendance, and absence management system. Integrate with your human capital management and enterprise resource planning systems to create a robust platform that provides you with real-time employee data.