When you made the decision to work in the food industry, you also agreed to shoulder the incredible and important responsibility of feeding a nation. Put another way, you have given your own personal commitment, on a daily basis, to ensure that the food you are producing is as safe and wholesome as it can be.
In addition to this tremendous commitment and responsibility, you also agreed, whether you like it or not, to subject yourself to intense regulation and oversight by the U.S. Food and Drug Agency (“FDA”). Thus, if you have not yet had the opportunity to become intimately familiar with FDA, chances are that in the coming months and years, you will. Put simply, FDA is coming.
So, what does that mean? That . . . “they’re coming…”
As you might recall, the phrase began its life as a line in a very scary 1982 movie called Poltergeist. And, in many respects, it encompasses what we are (or, will be) experiencing in the future as a regulated industry with the FDA in our mirror.
With food safety awareness increasing nationally among consumers and the media, and with the recent passage of the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act, FDA has been directed (and has consequently pledged) to begin inspecting food processors more often, more closely and more intimately. For this reason, whether you like it or not, you need to embrace the fact that in the coming months and years you will be closely … well, “haunted” by FDA.
Now that we have established that FDA is coming, what can (or should) we do about it? Well, just like in Poltergeist, locking the doors won’t help. Neither will closing the widows, dropping the shades, or completely ignoring the problem. And, no matter what, don’t go into the basement.
But, there are a number of things that can (and should) be done. Understanding that your next FDA inspection is unavoidable, and it will happen, it is absolutely critical to begin a dialogue today on what to expect, and how you should react, when it does.
Thus, in the following series of coming posts, we will walk you through the FDA inspection process, help you understand what to expect when it occurs, and give you advice on how to best respond. We will examine closely the reasons why FDA may visit your facility, the purposes for which it is there, the things it will expect to see, and what you should be doing now to get ready.
Although some may consider this a “ghost” of challenge, we hope that we can provide greater transparency to FDA inspection process. With a little help, and some basic planning, there is no doubt in my mind you will survive.