As food moves through the food supply chain, a range of precautions are taken to make sure it arrives safely to those purchasing and eating it. Federal programs, such as GAP, Good Handling Practices (GHP), and GMP stipulate guidelines for agricultural and specialty food processing. FSMA is a new set of food safety laws with proposed changes that will have significant implications food processing and handling. The Massachusetts Food Code further defines sanitation requirements for food establishments in the state, and in addition to reiterating the federal GMP, lays out requirements for residential kitchens, mobile food units, and details on administration, licensing, and enforcement.
Effective manufacturing of safe food requires maintaining updated food safety standards, education for food safety law compliance, and predictability as well as consistency in regulatory enforcement. Though the FDA Food Code was last revised in 2013, the current Massachusetts Food Code is based on the FDA’s Food Code from 1999, and is in need of updating. UMass Extension has provided important resources for food entrepreneurs, farmers, and food manufacturing industry professional. As food safety becomes a greater concern and more stringent food safety laws are put in place, there is increasing need for these services. Improvements to these and other areas in food processing will ensure that food is processed using modern standards, and that the resources are available for producers and regulators to support safe food production.
Recommendation 2.1: Maintain an updated food code in Massachusetts.
Action 2.1.1: Require the Executive Office of Health and Human Services’ Public Health Council to adopt the most current FDA Food Code, to bring the State up to date with the most recent science regarding food safety.
Action 2.1.2: Establish a process by which the State will stay current with FDA Food Code.
Action 2.1.3: Promulgate new information on FDA Food Code updates to local boards of health.
Recommendation 2.2: Expand training and support services for safe food handling and processing across state agencies and all levels of government.
Action 2.2.1: Identify demand for services from UMass Extension and expand as needed.
Action 2.2.2: Ensure that multilingual training in food safety is available through on-site, employer-sponsored English for Speakers of Other Languages programs, and support ongoing efforts in this area.
Action 2.2.3: Encourage the State of Massachusetts to fund and support process authorities at UMass Extension.
Recommendation 2.3: Make food safety compliance resources available to food handlers and processors.
Action 2.3.1: Maintain consolidated information on food safety compliance in an accessible print and online format, coordinated and updated by the Massachusetts DPH’s Food Protection Program.
Recommendation 2.4: Develop best practices guides for food processing facility development.
Action 2.4.1: Develop guidelines for complex, multi-functional kitchen infrastructure development. Make these guidelines available online and in print, and ensure they are coordinated and updated by one central agency.
Recommendation 2.5: Ensure consistent enforcement of food safety regulations.
Action 2.5.1: Ensure continued support and funding for the Massachusetts Public Health Inspector Training that trains local regulators to uniformly enforce food regulations, and require that local regulators participate.
Action 2.5.2: Promote regional approaches to developing and enforcing food safety regulations.