According to a new report compiled by the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies (PMMI), food processors are having to change their equipment procedures in order to comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

PMMI’s “2016 Food Safety Modernization Act Update Report” suggests that FSMA is not prompting food processing companies to invest in new equipment or equipment upgrades. What FSMA has done, however, is shift how these companies approach their work. This means procedural changes--how the manufacturing environment is organized, cleaned, and maintained; what people are trained on; and how activities are documented. Equipment purchases are usually made only when absolutely necessary.

In fact, the authors of the PMMI report conclude that “Changes to the cleaning processes and operations can often make up for machines less-than-ideal for food safety designs,” suggesting that the purchase of new equipment strictly for FSMA compliance may not always be necessary. Also, since FSMA is a “performance-based” regulation, there are no requirements in regards to specific equipment design. Insteads, says PMMI, focus on training, procedures, protocols, preventive controls and better documentation is what will help food processors to comply.

PMMI’s study uncovered that produce processors are most likely to spend on new equipment to help them comply with FSMA. They primarily look for five equipment design features:

  • Sanitary designs which eliminate bacteria growth
  • Equipment that is easy to clean, disassemble, and is composed of durable parts
  • Designs that provide ease of maintenance and access to worn parts and trouble spots
  • Robust data collection capabilities that can help optimize efficiency
  • Designs that are operator friendly, enabling safe and ergonomic operation on the factory floor

What else are food processors looking for? According to PMMI, they want consulting services offered by Original Equipment Manufacturers, along with help analyzing equipment risk assessments, and equipment testing and validating.