You’ve received your FSMA audit for pet food safety. Now what? That’s the potential multimillion-dollar question for pet food manufacturers working to achieve Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) compliance. Left with an audit list of upgrades, a manager of pet food manufacturing plants can be left wondering where to start, how much money to allocate and which items are truly important.

The answers to all these questions can be provided through one, single source: an FSMA audit prioritization plan.

To create your plan, guidance from a partner experienced in facility design and construction is valuable in meeting compliance timelines and budget parameters. A full-service partner can typically bring a holistic perspective to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements for human or pet food or both — which today are exceedingly similar. By working in close partnership with a plant’s manager, quality assurance team and internal engineers, an engineering, design and construction firm can create an actionable prioritization plan in four straightforward steps.

How to Create an Actionable Prioritization Plan

  1. The first task is to obtain and thoroughly review the pet food manufacturing plant's food safety audit results.
  2. The full-service firm would then come on-site to review the facility and identify any potential gaps in the audit.
  3. Using this gap analysis and the results from the audit, a risk matrix is created to help evaluate and prioritize the necessary upgrades, as well as a detailed cost-benefit analysis for each recommended project.
  4. This matrix would be presented to the facility’s team and management for discussion, tailored to meet any specific needs and finalized to be completed over an agreeable timeframe.

How to Factor Project Prioritization

Though wildly important to tackle, compliance audit upgrades are not the only projects needed by pet food manufacturing facilities. To assist with capital asset planning and budget allocations, the prioritization plan will separate out critical upgrades to address as soon as possible and less serious issues that can be mitigated until the budget allows a permanent fix.

For example, if a dust control solution is missing from the facility, that would be put at the top of the list to prevent dust from solid material handling from turning into a mold problem. Also, if the material and personnel flow in the plant allows for cross-contamination with raw materials and final products, the problem would need to be addressed immediately.

On the other hand, if a facility has standing water due to an improperly sloped floor, that issue could be mitigated with additional personnel to attend to it by including it in the facility’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). That would push it further down on your priority plan.

How to Move Forward

As you evaluate your food safety audit, remember it’s a fluid checklist that will evolve. No facility is perfect. But addressing compliance issues doesn’t have to break your budget. By partnering with a full-service firm, you can create a prioritization plan to guide your upgrade projects for years to come, completing projects and executing solutions in a cost-effective and timely manner.

 

Learn more about how to identify necessary facility modifications to achieve pet food FSMA compliance.

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Ib Elandaloussi, a Burns & McDonnell food safety specialist, specializes in developing and implementing complete food safety systems for food manufacturers. His experience includes not only determining areas of non-conformance, but also prioritizing and designing cost-effective solutions for clients to become FSMA compliant.