FDA Discloses Method for Classifying Food Facilities as “High Risk” Under FSMA
The National Law Review published an article regarding FDA High Risk Food Facilities Classification Methods written by Lynn C. Tyler, M.S., Nicolette R. Hudson and Hae Park-Suk of Barnes & Thornburg LLP:
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed by President Obama in January 2011, requires FDA to inspect food facilities on different time tables depending on whether a facility is classified as “high risk” or not. High-risk facilities must be inspected at least once within the first five years after the enactment of the FSMA and once every three years thereafter. Non-high risk facilities must be inspected at least once within the first seven years after the enactment of the FSMA and once every five years thereafter.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently disclosed the method it intends to follow to classify food facilities as high risk or non-high risk under the FSMA. The agency first noted that the FSMA set forth six risk factors to be considered in making this determination:
- The known safety risks of the food manufactured, processed, packed or held at the facility
- The compliance history of the facility
- The facility’s hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls (HARBPC)
- Whether the food at the facility meets the criteria for priority to detect intentional adulteration in imported food
- Whether the food at the facility has received certain certifications
- Other criteria identified by Health and Human Services
FDA then noted that for FY 2011-13 the classification decision will be based primarily on the first two factors and according to the following algorithms:
- If a facility manufactures food categories associated with foodborne outbreaks AND class I recalls (reasonable probability of serious adverse health consequences or death), it is high risk
- If a facility manufactures food categories associated with foodborne outbreaks OR class I recalls AND it has not been inspected within the last five years, it is high risk
- Facilities with a checkered compliance history (three or more inspections resulting in Voluntary Action Indicated findings or one or more resulting in Official Action Indicated findings within the last five years) are high risk
FDA stated that it plans to modify and adjust these criteria in the future as it develops data on some of the FSMA criteria and for other reasons. It also reserved the right to inspect a facility more frequently when necessary in its judgment.
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