FSMA For Restaurants and Grocery Stores - 8 Things You Should Know
Posted by Sarah B. on August 30, 2017 in Retail Focus

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has been a popular topic in food safety for years. Now that its effective dates are approaching, it will become even more important to understand how it will affect you, your business, and your customers. It is easier to understand how this will affect people along the supply chain, but it’s not as clear what it means for retail. In an effort to help spread the word about this new regulation, we’ve created a brief list of FSMA highlights for restaurants and grocery stores.


  1. FSMA stands for Food Safety Modernization Act. It was signed by President Obama on January 4, 2011, and the first phase went into effect in May 2017. Effective dates for the provisions of FSMA are staggered by size of business, so small businesses have longer to comply.
  2. This is the first widespread legislation on food safety in almost 75 years. The last food safety legislation was passed in 1938. When you consider that length of time, it isn’t surprising that FSMA is as complex and extensive as it is.
  3. The goal of FSMA is to make the entire food supply chain safer by moving from reactive to preventative. The current system is reactive. When people get sick, the search begins for the source of contamination. When the contamination source is found, recalls are issued. FSMA aims to shift to a preventative environment where there is closer monitoring of every step of the supply chain. The goal is to prevent contamination from occurring and to keep contaminated food from getting to consumers.
  4. FSMA is a combination of several rules that encompass the scope of the food supply chain. The rules are in produce safety, intentional adulteration, human controls, foreign supplier verification, sanitary transportation, third-party accreditation, and animal preventive controls.
  5. The FDA will have new powers. Expect more recalls. The FDA previously could only suggest recalls, but as of September 2016, they will have the power to force a mandatory recall. This is perhaps the biggest takeaway for restaurants and grocers. The FDA’s power to force a mandatory recall may lead to more recalls and a disruption in your supply. The goal is to respond more promptly to food contamination and prevent these foods from getting to market and sickening your customers.
  6. For grocers, section 211 is key. Currently, recall information gets out to consumers through an outdated system in which the FDA posts notices on their website. With this system, recall information is only found by consumers who are actively looking for it. Section 211 provides a recall announcement system for grocery stores. When the FDA posts recall notifications to their website, they will also provide a grocery store printable copy that will need to be posted in a conspicuous and prominent location if the store has ever sold the recalled food. The FDA has not yet provided a list of locations that are considered conspicuous.
  7. FSVP may impact restaurant and grocery. FSVP stands for Foreign Supplier Verification Program.  FSVP requires the importer of a foreign-supplied food to ensure their foreign supplier has met the same standards a U.S. supplier is required to meet. Restaurants and grocery can be held to the standard of an importer and will need to be able to produce records for the previous two years at the request of the FDA within 24 hours. Follow this chart to determine whether or not you are subject to FSVP requirements. If you determine you are subject to these requirements, this outline from the FDA gives a good overview of what to expect from a request.
  8. Disruption in the food supply may occur. The requirements of FSMA are meant to weed out food products that have subpar safety standards before they get to market. This will improve the quality of the food getting to your customers, but it may also mean delays in supply. The adjustment period between FSMA being effective and being implemented will likely leave gaps between current suppliers and compliance. Until everyone meets FSMA standards, you may have interruptions in your supply.


This post was written by Beth L. Beth L. is a Regulatory Affairs Analyst at Acuity where she specializes in researching regulations, understanding statutes, and working with compliance.. She studied regulation, policy, environmental studies, and business administration at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Beth has received degrees in in public administration and environmental policy and planning, and also has a certification in environmental sustainability in business. Outside of work Beth likes to run, cook, and play with her dog, Butter. 

Sarah B. is our Retail guru
Sarah B. came to Acuity this year with a background in retail. She studied Interior Architecture in college and completed an online business education program through Harvard Business School. She also has a wide range of commercial insurance experience and has earned her Associate in General Insurance (AINS), Associate in Insurance Services (AIS), and Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designations. This made her the perfect addition to the Acuity Mercantile team. If she could travel anywhere in the world, she would return to Italy. She spent three weeks there during college studying architecture and design and has wanted to go back ever since.

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