When the federal government released the final rules of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) this past November, it immediately increased the demand for food safety auditors across the globe. Thousands of domestic and international facilities soon must undergo second- or third-party audits. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will likely rely on professional auditors to help certify imported foods to come into the country.

Auditors are responsible for protecting the American food supply, and are considered the last line of defense. Yet, one out of every six Americans gets sick from foodborne illness each year, and many facilities that are high-risk are not audited frequently. Qualified auditors must have appropriate food safety training, as well as experience and training in auditing to comply with FSMA. There are simply not enough experienced, qualified auditors to do the job.

The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA)’s Food Safety Auditor (FSA) training is one way that food safety professionals can prepare for the demands of FSMA, and the increased need for qualified auditors that the new law brings. To meet this industry need, NEHA has built a career track capability into its newest food safety credential.

FSA training is designed for food safety professionals with working knowledge of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans and food safety schemes, and who are current auditors or inspectors that want to meet the new requirements. It is also a starting point for professionals that are interested in pursuing an auditing career.

This training will strengthen and enhance the skills, knowledge, and critical thinking behaviors. Instructors will review auditing practices, written and verbal communication skills, preventive controls, and technical knowledge using exercises and case studies.

“The issue is trying to get a job. It’s a chicken and the egg thing,” explains Rance Baker, NEHA program administrator. “You can’t get a job unless you’re an auditor. But how do people become auditors?”

NEHA has extensive experience developing certifications and credentials for food safety industry professionals, ranging from beginner to advanced levels. Other certifications and credentials that NEHA offers include: Certified in Comprehensive Food Safety (CCFS), Certified Professional-Food Safety (CP-FS), HACCP Manager and Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian (REHS/RS).

“Currently, we don’t even have an entry point into the career, and it is such an emerging profession,” says Patricia Wester, course instructor. NEHA’s FSA training helps solve this issue.

As part of the FSA course, participants will complete a written assessment, and receive a certificate of successful course completion. Registration includes full access to the Food Safety Summit and opportunities to network with other experts in the field.

Those interested in attending the FSA course must register for the first training by April 15 to receive early-bird pricing. To register, visit foodsafetysummit.com. The training is expected to fill up quickly.

Completion of the FSA course counts for 14 hours of continuing education (CE) credits for current NEHA credential holders. For more information about NEHA’s FSA training, professional credentialing, and CE credits, please visit neha.org or email credentialing@neha.org.

NEHA is currently finalizing its Food Safety Auditor credential program, which is set to be released before the end of 2016.

Nancy A. Finney, MPA, is the technical editor of the National Environmental Health Association.