- Why Trustwell
Section 204 of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA 204) is poised to change the landscape of food safety significantly in the coming years. It has introduced significant regulations aimed at enhancing the safety and traceability of food products, ultimately protecting consumers from foodborne illnesses. As the deadline for FSMA 204 compliance approaches, January 20, 2026, it's crucial for companies and professionals in the food industry to understand the implications of this final rule and prepare accordingly.
That's why we're excited to shine a spotlight on a highly anticipated session from reCONNECT 2023,the Fireside Chat on FSMA 204 - Planning for a Safer, Traceable Future. The discussion, hosted by Trustwell’s VP of Supply Chain Strategy and Insights, Julie McGill, featured an FDA Senior Consumer Safety Officer, Angela Fields, who works on the Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation Network (CORE) at the FDA.
Meet Angela Fields with the FDA's CORE Team
CORE, established in 2011, is a dedicated team of experts in medicine, public health, and science. Their mission is to coordinate efforts to identify, respond to, and prevent foodborne illness outbreaks. Since its inception, CORE has played a vital role in safeguarding public health by swiftly addressing food safety concerns.
Angela Fields, as part of the FDA's CORE team, brings a unique and invaluable perspective to the table. Her experience and expertise in coordinating responses to foodborne illness outbreaks provide a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities that FSMA 204 presents to the food industry. Julie opened the discussion by asking what the FDA has been doing since the ruling dropped nearly a year ago.
"It feels like it’s been a few years, even though its been 10 months," Angela joked. "We’re focusing a lot on educating the industry to prepare. We’ve had meetings with associations and helping them ensure they understand the rule, and we’re developing our next steps and strategies when it comes to compliance and enforcement and other implementation processes, like developing materials. From the info we’ve gotten from the industry, it seems like the things we’re putting out have been well received and helpful for understanding the new ruling."
During the discussion, Angela shared that the FDA is leaning on the industry to develop processes that will help with traceability compliance.
"There are so many food businesses out there, which is why it's really important for us to lean on the industry. That means helping people on the forefront of traceability really connect to the initiatives to help provide awareness. The rule (intentionally) doesn't talk about how businesses should implement these initiatives. We really want to rely on the industry to continue to have those conversations amongst themselves and come up with those solutions. They're the experts, we create the regulations and review the records, but they're the ones that move the food through the supply chain. So it's important for the FDA to have that interaction."
Shaping The Future of Food Traceability
During the Fireside Chat on day one of reCONNECT 2023, Julie and Angela opened the discussion with a current overview of the regulation. Next, our hosts highlighted key aspects that businesses need to be aware of as they prepare for compliance. But Angela wanted to emphasize that companies don't have to figure it out alone. The FDA is always willing to help, whether through private training presentations, online resources, or direct requests via email.
"We have a 'contact us' page on the website and you can submit a speaker request and let us know which parts of the rule you want to know more about," Angela shared. "We will tailor the request for you. We also have our FAQ which has a lot of information and guidance on how to interpret the rule. We highly recommend asking specific questions through those mechanisms so we can interact with you all."
"With each conversation, we learn as we go – same as you all. Every conversation has been informative for us. Not only for having a dialogue with industry, but better understanding what communication and education needs are out there to help companies better understand the rule."
Julie asked, "As companies are putting their plans together, can companies reach out to have the FDA evaluate their process?"
Angela responded, "For sure, we’re doing our best to respond and may not be able to do it individually, but it will help us respond collectively to what’s happening in the industry. That will help us develop the bigger picture and develop materials to help companies understand (whether large or small) how they can develop their traceability plans and processes."
Watch reCONNECT 2023 On-Demand Now!
The Fireside Chat also dove into some of the most common questions Angela and Julie have come across concerning FSMA 204, including the adding or removing items from the Food Traceability List, developing compliance (and noncompliance) strategies, and more. You can watch the entire discussion on-demand by registering for reCONNECT and checking your email. Don't miss out on this FSMA 204 Fireside Chat and the wealth of knowledge that was covered!