FSMA at FEW: Panelists share experiences, advice

By Lisa Gibson | June 13, 2018

The Food Safety Modernization Act requires plants to develop and implement procedures they previously hadn’t had to consider, according to Brian Schasel, environmental/technical manager for Big River Resources LLC. “A Food Safety Plan is not something most plants had prior to FSMA,” he said. “We certainly didn’t.”

Schasel spoke on a panel titled “How FSMA Preparation Should Impact Your Facility’s Operations and Maintenance Programs” June 13 at the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo in Omaha. He illuminated attendees on how Big River Resources overhauled its relevant procedures to comply with the law, which regulates human and animal feed contents. The food safety plan helped speed up FSMA implementation, but there was still a lot to do, he said.

The plant developed Current Good Manufacturing Practices, which sounds intimidating, Schasel said, but is simply a set of formal written procedures. The company also conducted a hazard analysis, which included identifying hazards, rating them and determining which hazards require preventive controls. Some common hazards Big River identified include pests, mycotoxins and physical hazards, among others. Identifying the hazards was followed by preventive controls and hazard management. “What do we do about the hazards we identified?” Schasel said.

Training is another crucial aspect of FSMA compliance Schasel reviewed. “The obvious place to start was with general plant-wide training on FSMA.” Not so obvious was training on personal hygiene, such as hand washing, he added.

The plant has also implemented a recall program, which fellow speaker Tony Rizzardi, senior regulatory specialist for Ecolab Inc., highlighted in his presentation as an important measure. “The biggest challenge is probably trying to stage a mock recall,” Schasel said.

Last, Schasel discussed recordkeeping, saying Big River has a two-year retention time. Fellow panelist Jessica Buckley, senior environmental scientist with RTP Environmental Associates Inc., heavily emphasized keeping records on FSMA compliance, repeatedly telling the audience, “Document everything.”

About 2,000 people are in attendance at the 34th Annual FEW, running June 11 to 13 at the CenturyLink Center.