Readers are invited to submit relevant and timely guest blog posts to Fresh Talk. This guest post is provided by Mike Rozembajgier, Vice President of Recalls, ExpertRECALL. From Mike:


Why Preparing for FSMA is More Important than Ever in a Post-Sequester World

By Mike Rozembajgier, Vice President of Recalls, ExpertRECALL

The word sequester brings to mind defense cuts, government furloughs, the national debt, and for some, bickering between the White House and Congress. But for producers, growers, shippers, and retailers in the food industry, the effects of the sequestration will be deep. One thing to watch will be how the budget cuts impact the introduction and enforcement of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and new standards for produce safety that require stricter standards for growing, harvesting, packing and holding fruits and vegetables.

Although it might be easy to think that a reduction in food inspectors and funding for government programs like FSMA will mean less oversight, companies at all points in the U.S. food supply chain should still work toward adoption as mainstream and social media will still continue to keep a watchful eye on the industry. Mommy bloggers, Facebook posters and Twitter users with an unceasing appetite for news can all drive a relatively small recall issue to the front of people’s minds faster and farther than ever before.

And the threat of problems in the supply chain is real.  In 2012, a single safety issue at a U.S. food processing plant led to 165 recalls and had a widespread negative impact on several companies’ food products.  As the ExpertRECALL Quarterly Recall Index reported, on average six food recalls were announced each day in the U.S. during the fourth quarter of 2012. For producers today, it’s not a matter of if a recall happens, it’s when. And, as the horsemeat scandal in Europe shows, the effects of a tainted supply chain on a brand can be devastating.

So despite potential budget impacts of the sequestration cuts, producers must continue to pay critical attention to product recalls in order to protect their brand. Speed and communication are essential components of an effectively managed recall.  Having a recall plan in place will help ensure everyone knows their roles and can quickly respond during a potential recall.  It’s also crucial for producers to know their partners and vendors, as a third-party recall or product issue can quickly become their own.

The good news is that a properly managed recall can be a way for a company to strengthen customer loyalty, demonstrating care about customers’ health and safety. It’s just a matter of preparation and prevention – something at the very heart of the FSMA reforms.