Looking to support companies in the food sector to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act, the Puerto Rico Manufacturing Extension (PRiMEx) has launched a program to create food safety plans.
The initiative will benefit up to 100 companies engaged in food preparation on a commercial scale, as well as the manufacture, processing, packaging, transport or storage of food, drinks or dietary supplements to be consumed in the United States by humans or animals. PRiMEX has $627,000 for the initiative.
The purpose of the project is to ensure a safer food supply chain, shifting the focus from reactive to pollution to pollution prevention. The plan is free.
“This is not a voluntary certification, but a mandatory legal requirement. The causes of food poisoning come from food-borne diseases, more than 250 diseases have been identified,” said Julio Lugo, director of PRiMEX’s Food Modernization Safety Act program.
“In addition, most of them are infections caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses and parasites. The most susceptible populations are children, elderly, pregnant women and people with weak immune system,” he said.
“That’s why it is necessary and urgent that companies have a plan for food safety to ensure a healthy and hazard-free consumer,” Lugo said.
Companies in the local manufacturing industry represent 24 percent of the registered companies, PRiMEX said. They are usually companies with 20 or fewer jobs, that group about 10,000 people.
The implications for the economy range from import substitutions to the opportunity to increase exports and generate local wealth.
“It is an essential requirement that companies develop a written food safety plan with emphasis on preventive measures risks in food, developed by a Qualified Individual in Preventive Controls,” he said, noting PRiMEX provides free access to those professionals.
“This plan is estimated to have a market cost from $3,000 to $6,000,” Lugo said, noting food safety plan includes; risk analysis, preventive controls, monitoring activities, corrective actions, verification and a collection program.
“The Food and Drug Administration may enter and inspect business processes at any time, and if the company does not comply with the aforementioned law, it may have consequences such as fines, seizure of inventories, the suspension of registration, equivalent to the closure of operations,” Lugo said.