Ever wonder where that plump, tomato was grown before it made its way onto your plate?

Well, worry no longer.

In December 2010, the Federal Drug Administration created the Food Safety Modernization Act geared towards traceability and prevention of food borne illness as it pertains to foods prepared for public consumption.

In the past the FDA has chosen to treat a problem rather than prevent it, this act does just the opposite. It was created to shift the responsibility from responding to a food contamination to instead, preventing it. The CDC estimates that each year 1 in 6 Americans get sick every year due to food borne illnesses, that translates to billions of dollars overall to help clean up, what was not so clean, to begin with.

So what does that mean for you?

On January 4, 2001 President Barack Obama signed into law the Food Safety Modernization Act, or FSMA. This act along with its seven main proposals, would seek to create a nationwide, if not international (when that food is used for import and/or export to the US ) set of guidelines to have all food industry facilities in a sense “speak” the same food language. The act would prevent hazardous practices from coming in to play, by setting up guidelines for growing conditions, soil and water amendments, equipment and building sanitation to name a few. A FSMA mandated qualified exception will be in place for farms with food sales of less than $500,000, as long as half or more sales come directly from consumers within the same state or no more than 275 miles from that farm, including those to restaurants and retail outlets. Food grown for use on farm or for personal consumption are also exempt.

For those others in the food and beverage industry it could mean more that just cooking to code. Cooking in a commercial kitchen, and in turn selling to the consumer via farmers markets or stands qualifies you as a retail food establishment. Food industry businesses across the board will need to have the ability to trace the movement of its food products through each stage, production, processing and distribution either way. The traceback of food product from shelf to source and the trace forward from source to consumer is a right that the FDA is giving back to the end consumer.

Although the act was passed and signed in Jan 2011, the FDA was not able to meet their original deadlines to finalize all parts of the act, an agreement was settled and all guidelines will need to be instated as of March 2016. The FDA proposed their seventh and final rule, they are however not law yet. This gives manufacturers a proactive approach to be ready and think about how the FSMA will impact manufacturing plants, manufacturing business systems, production methods and supply chains.

In the end there may be a mad dash to prepare for what he FDA has in store for us, but will we be ready for all the changes it will bring.

Only time will tell.