FSMA Training Curriculum FrameworkTo assist food processors and manufacturers with achieving the necessary level of compliance as more and more components of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) are finalized, the FDA has recently proposed an FSMA training strategy for implementation. Completing certain training tasks goes beyond a simple recommendation, as some of the FSMA rules have mandatory training requirements that must be met within a particular timeframe.

Citing the need for assistance from both public and private groups, the FDA has identified a number of alliances that will be developing training curricula for food companies. These include the Produce Safety Alliance, Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance, and Sprout Safety Alliance. Comprised of representatives from federal and state regulatory agencies, the food industry, and academia, these alliances are putting together programs that will assist food companies in understanding the requirements that must be met in order to comply with the FSMA’s preventive control and safety rules. These organizations will also be largely responsible for delivering these curricula, and will work to ensure that training opportunities are available to companies of all shapes and sizes, both domestic and international.

Recognizing that standardized curricula may not be applicable in all situations, the FDA will offer additional FSMA training options for more specialized groups. The FDA plans to fund the development of these alternate training programs through a number of cooperative agreements with outside entities, including the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. The FDA has also partnered with the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to establish a national coordination center, along with four regional centers, that will work to develop and disseminate these alternative training programs.

While the deadline for achieving compliance varies depending on a company’s size, all organizations should have ample time to complete the necessary training assignments, provided they take a proactive approach. For companies who must fulfill FSMA training obligations, it is never too early to develop a strategy for how and when these conditions will be satisfied.