FSMA Resource Center


What is the Food Safety Modernization Act?

The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 (FSMA) is the most fundamental change to food safety regulations in over 70 years. Affecting every step of the supply chain, FSMA gives the FDA the power to prevent rather than react to food safety crises.


What does FSMA do?

FSMA mandates that all food facilities implement a preventive controls plan.

A preventive control plan includes:


  • An evaluation of potential food safety hazards
  • Steps and controls to prevent those hazards
  • A system to monitor the controls
  • Routine records of the monitoring
  • A recall plan

Inspection and Compliance

FSMA expands the scope of the FDA’s oversight by increasing the frequency of inspections of food facilities, particularly those that are deemed to be high risk. FSMA also allows the FDA access to the records and food safety plans that are now required of all food facilities.


The FDA is now able to issue a mandatory recall of unsafe food as well as suspend the registration of a facility if they believe the food possesses a health risk. Additionally, FSMA loosens the standards required to detain products that may be in violation of the law.


FSMA holds importers accountable for their foreign suppliers. Importers must be able to verify to the FDA that their foreign supplier has an adequate preventive controls pan in place. For high risk imported foods, the FDA can demand a third party certification that assures compliance with US safety standards. However, the FDA is required to establish a program through which foreign food facilities can be verified by qualified third parties. The FDA must also establish a voluntary program that allows food importers to go through an expedited review if their food is sourced from certified facilities. Learn more about Foreign Supplier Verification Program and Qualified Importers.

Enhanced Partnerships

Lastly, FSMA aims to improve food safety through collaboration with both foreign and domestic government agencies. FSMA provides the FDA with a multi-year grant to strengthen the food safety capabilities of state and local agencies whom the FDA will rely on to meet its increased inspection mandate. FSMA also directs the FDA to develop a plan to address educating foreign governments and food producers on US safety standards.

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