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Is Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Software a Compliance Requirement of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)? If Not, Then How Can PLM Facilitate the Act, and Make Your Company More Profitable?

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has finally landed on food and beverage processing plants, it’s time to begin implementing its requirements – but where should you begin?

My recommendation is based on 15 years experience in research and development/quality assurance, 10 years IT consulting in manufacturing and supply chain management, and 3 years as an expert witness in food litigation cases. As a result, I view the implementation of the FSMA through four business lenses; 1) Food Safety/HACCP; 2) legal risk mitigation; 3) complimentary IT solutions; and 4) business growth.

Purpose of 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)

The overriding purpose of the FSMA is to protect the public health by preventing food-borne illness, ensuring the safety of food, improving research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and improving security of food from intentional contamination, and for other purposes. The FSMA aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus of federal regulators from responding to contamination to preventing it. The FSMA has given the FDA new authorities to regulate the way foods are grown, harvested and processed. The law grants FDA a number of new powers, including mandatory recall authority, which the agency has sought for many years. The law was prompted after many reported incidents of food-borne illnesses during the 2000s (decade). Tainted food has cost the food industry billions of dollars in recalls, lost sales and legal expenses.

Provisions of 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)

FSMA has three core provisions that include 1) Improve the Capacity to Prevent Food Safety Problems, 2) Improve the Capacity to Detect and Respond to food safety problems, 3)  Improve the Safety of Imported Food, and 4) other miscellaneous provisions. In summary the provisions include prevention, detection and response, and data management of imported food.

How Can PLM Facilitate FSMA Compliance?

I believe the Food Safety & Modernization Act may represent the biggest business reason for food and beverage companies to purchased PLM software – and not for the workflow functionality. First and foremost, the FSMA requires documentation, documentation, and more documentation. Second, the FSMA will require plant quality performance data – and the data will need to be stored in a secure, non-corrupting environment with quick access. Once the FDA or USDA inspector enters your property, the plant manager will need to have his policies, programs, HACCP plans, corrective action documentation, and other plant performance data in ADVANCE. The same requirement applies to imported food products. As a result, I don’t know another software program that can support all of the above information requirements in real-time.

But deciding you need a PLM product is just the beginning; a company needs a lot of support from a qualified and experienced business software consultant to define the project scope and business requirements, so that the right product can be purchased without implementation cost overruns.


Dr. Darrel Suderman is President/CEO of Food Technical Consulting and Business IQ LLC. He has 15 years experience in Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) and the Quick Serve Restaurant (QSR) industries. For 10 years, he has led major MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems), Supply Chain Management (SCM), and Product LifeCycle Management (PLM) consulting projects at numerous #1 branded companies that includes: Jennie-O Turkey Store, Johnsonville Sausage, Ernst & Julio Gallo Winery, JBS Pilgrims, Organic Valley, and Gold’n Plump Poultry. Business IQ LLC was started in 2011 as a Business Intelligence Analytics consulting services provider using SAP Business Object Platform. He has published numerous IT white papers and spoken at major software company annual sales meetings.

For more information on 1-day cutting edge corporate IT systems innovation seminars, please contact me at or follow the Food Innovation Institute website ( for information on two Food Innovation 3-day workshops in Denver, Colorado.

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