Shannon Cooksey, MS, PMP, Senior Director, Science Program Management at the Grocery Manufacturers Association

Food Safety Consortium Sneak Peek – Food Defense Rule

By Sangita Viswanathan
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Shannon Cooksey, MS, PMP, Senior Director, Science Program Management at the Grocery Manufacturers Association

“Food defense is different from preventive controls and food defense cannot be prescriptive—it needs to be tied to a facility-specific risk evaluation,” says Shannon Cooksey, Senior Director at the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

The Food Safety Modernization Act is the first instance of codified food defense regulations. This discussion is a hard look at the proposed food defense requirements and examining what compliance may look like. 

At the upcoming Food Safety Consortium, to be held November 17-18 in Schaumburg, IL, Shannon Cooksey, MS, PMP, Senior Director, Science Program Management at the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), will address the key takeaways associated with the proposed regulation.

Following this presentation, Sarah Sunday from Kraft will talk about challenges the industry will face in implementing the rule as written and how the industry currently addresses food safety.

In a chat with Food Safety Tech, Cooksey provides a sneak-peek into her presentation.

FST: How are Food Defense requirements evolving under proposed FSMA rules?

Cooksey: GMA led industry in developing comments on the proposed Food Defense rule earlier this year, specifically focusing two things: one, food defense is different from preventive controls and two, food defense cannot be prescriptive—it needs to be tied to a facility-specific risk evaluation. While FDA has not yet re-proposed new food defense language as part of the supplementals released on September 29 of this year, we have good reason to believe that FDA has shifted some of its positions in light of our comments. We also believe another opportunity to submit comments on a food defense supplemental proposal, similar to what was done with Preventive Controls, would be a valuable use of time for both the industry and the Agency as they move towards issuance of a final food defense rule in May of 2016.

FST: What are some things that companies need to keep in mind to be prepared to comply with these requirements?

Cooksey: While this is the first time food defense is being proposed as a regulation, there are already some existing training materials available to industry to begin developing food defense plans. Since the requirement to have someone specially trained in food defense will likely be part of the final rule, GMA recommends that companies start early and take advantage of the available materials already available. GMA and the GMA Science and Education Foundation are planning to release additional materials and courses in 2015.

FST: Who should attend this discussion, and how would they benefit from it?

Cooksey: Security specialists at the facility and corporate level regulatory affairs staff who oversee food defense and/or FSMA within their companies should attend. Also, food quality assurance and food safety managers will need to know how the food defense plan will work in combination with food safety plans.

Click here for more information on the Food Safety Consortium, and learn from over 75 of the Food Industry’s top food safety SMEs.

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