Food Safety Modernization Act

Primers for State and Local Governments

In an effort to improve the safety of the nation’s food supply, the historic FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law on January 4, 2011. This formidable piece of legislation represents a paradigm shift in how the federal government approaches foodborne illness. The FSMA places a new focus on our nation’s ability to prevent foodborne illness, while strengthening our ability to respond to outbreaks.

About 48 million Americans get sick every year from foodborne illness — one out of six Americans — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Foodborne illness results in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths every year. A recent study funded by the PEW Charitable Trusts revealed that foodborne illness costs the United States approximately $152 billion annually.

With its new focus on preventing foodborne illness, the FSMA looks at the food system as a whole and delineates new responsibilities and powers for key participants, including state and local authorities.

The Network has developed a series of primers to help state and local governments better understand the new responsibilities, opportunities and resources required and provided by the FSMA, such as guidance documents, training, grant funding, contract opportunities, and improved situational awareness. The primers also address questions about specific FSMA regulations. For example, how will new hazard analysis and risk-based control regulations affect states that conduct facility inspections for the FDA? 

Three primers are posted above, and each month a new primer will be added. The primers will be organized into three categories. The first will focus on select provisions aimed at improving the capacity to prevent food safety problems. These provisions will address issues such as facility registration and produce safety standards. The second category will cover select efforts to improve the nation’s capacity to detect and respond to food safety problems, such as new inspection schedules and mandatory recall authority. The third category will focus on key miscellaneous provisions of the FSMA, including important whistleblower protections.

While these primers will address several of the considerable changes that arise from the FSMA, the effects of this historic law will continue to develop as regulations are promulgated and funds are appropriated to implement its many initiatives.  

For additional questions regarding the FSMA, food safety in general, and/or these primers, please contact the Network’s Eastern Region by email at Get Technical Assistance or by phone at 410-706-5575.