Industry Insights & Newsworthy Articles

09/21/2018

FSMA Education vs. Enforcement

One of the biggest challenges we face at Vapor Armour is explaining the difference between the FSMA in education/compliance mode, and the FSMA in enforcement/compliance mode. As you know, the 2022 regulatory meetings included a warning that enforcement is beginning, and could result in closure of facilities, and even the loss of FDA good handling licenses. We know this can seem extreme when in many cases, only a small percentage of the facility is affected by the problem of Vapor Drive and its consequences. So, we’ve produced an analogy we think we can all understand. It is a scene out of Caddy Shack, the iconic movie with Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray. Here it is:

On a lovely, lazy summer afternoon, shouts of “Marco!” and answers of ”Polo” echo across the gleaming pool deck, lined by bronzed bodies, lounging under umbrellas, and sprawled in full sun across deck chairs, amid bustling, sharply uniformed stewards delivering frosty beverages on silver trays.

Somewhere a dog barks, and a far distant cry of “fore” drifts over from the rolling fairway, lined by perfectly manicured hedges, alive with buzzing bees, and songbirds. The perfect summer afternoon at any country club in America, and a smaller version plays out in a million neighborhoods, the ritual of summer vacation.

From the pool, the giggles and murmur of friendly conversation is suddenly pierced by a blood curdling shriek. Everyone freezes, except the lifeguard. Suddenly upright and vigilant, the Life Gaurd scans the pool for the source of the commotion, and there, center pool, pigtails bobbing above her pink floaty, sun glinting off her fresh braces, is a young girl, pointing accusingly a few feet away.

“Eeeek!” she screams, “It’s a doodie!”

The lifeguard’s stomach sinks as he follows her accusing finger to a small floating brown log just feet from where the girl struggles toward the edge of the pool, now jostled by the mad rushing exodus, among screams and raised voices. Within seconds, the lifeguard clears the pool.

I hope you recognize this scene from the Bill Murray classic, Caddyshack. But, it’s just as likely that as a kid, you heard, “Don’t pee in the pool,” more than once from your mother, or some well-meaning adult, and understood immediately, that if number one was bad, number two would be catastrophic, but yet it will happen again this summer in pools across America, and around the world.

So, what’s the big analogy?

Health safety.

Why are we telling you this story?

First, because it’s a great attention getting story and, secondly, because this scene is not too different from one that could be playing out in cold storage coolers and freezers across America this summer. You see, as temperatures rise, the odds of Vapor Drive increase, pushing invasive warm air into your low-temp facility, and bringing with it condensation, ice, and the threat of listeria contamination. A “doodie,” indeed.

If you’ve been in the frozen food industry for long, you probably felt a chill go up your spine at the mere mention of the word listeria, and it should. But you might still not understand what this story has to do with you.

FSMA. The Food Safety Modernization Act, a regulation we all comply with, has finally come of age, and the FDA is cutting their enforcement teeth on companies found lacking compliance. Just like the health department will shut down a pool quicker than black Friday shoppers snapping up deals, at the mere mention of a “doodie.”

But you probably don’t have anything to worry, about, right? You’ve never had any problems with FDA inspectors before, right? And you haven’t seen any sign of ice in your facilities, have you? We hope that’s true. We honestly do. We hope that your facility was built up to a healthy spec and has been maintained properly. We hope that you’ve not experienced the kind of movement in your structures that can introduce these problems even into relatively new and well-built facilities.

But the alternative is unthinkable.

Picture this, it’s a busy day in one of your facilities, when a USDA inspector appears and requests access. So, you peel off one of your facility’s personnel and they begin their tour. Now, your guy knows that you had a problem a month back, in one cooler, but believes it fixed, with spray foam. Good luck.

Upon inspection, although no reports of contamination exist, the inspector spies a section of icing in that freezer and mentions it to your guy, who tries to downplay as the inspector makes notes. The doodie has been found. The inspection continues. Two things can occur: 1.  The inspector begins to educate your guy as to why the ice or condensation is problematic, listeria-holding and a violation of FSMA. (FSMA education). OR 2. The inspector says: “Well, you’ll have to shut down operations unless you can abate that problem within 3 months,” FSMA enforcement. Your guy says: “Why is that? Surely there’s an alternative.”

“No, I’m afraid not, here’s the paperwork, please sign here, you’ll need to have all product out of the facility unless you can show us, you’ll eradicate the ice by the date and time on the notice,” they say.

In the latter scenario, the lifeguard has just pulled everybody out of the pool. Your facility will need to be retrofitted to eliminate the problem and there are very few companies prepared to do that properly, and only one we know of who could handle it now, before the inspector shows up or within the time she’s given to fix it, with minimal interruption to your operation, and that’s Vapor Armour.

We get that you’re upset by this idea. There was no contamination, no listeria reported in any product, just a small patch of ice. Well, first, what you see is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, but regardless, this is what enforcement looks like with FSMA 2022. It can be harsh. We know.

In Caddyshack, if you remember, there was a scene before and after the scare. Truth was, there was never a doodie, in a bit of youthful exuberance, a young man had accidentally launched a Baby Ruth candy bar into the pool. In the end, the grounds keeper, played by Bill Murray, is called in to solve the problem.

Standing in the pool, he finds the offending, “doodie” examines it, and takes a bite, to the disgust of the club owners. The pool, however, is still as empty as your facility could be, and it could get worse, but there is a solution.

Call Vapor Armour, make us your lifeguard. We remove the ice contamination– the doodie – and install a  permanent fix. THERE WILL BE NO REASON TO MOVE PRODUCT OUT – we fix the contamination while you maintain operation. The pool needs not be cleared!!! If you’d like to learn more about what that looks like, call us to have one of our experts evaluate your facility and present our system to you.

In the end, this could save your license. Not to mention your reputation with the customers whose product may be impacted. It doesn’t take long, and we’ve got a proven track record of savings related to our installations (link to another post about energy savings) that shows our installations pay for themselves in short order, just think of what you could do with the savings! (Link to post about paying employees better, etc.)

In the end, if you can’t abate the nuisance, and stopping air is a tough job, the inspector will return and could shut you down, suspending, or even revoking your USDA license. We’d like to prevent that for you. Our investigation process is simple, and thorough. Using special thermal technology, we’re able to not only spot the problems, but track them back to their source, and uncover the full range of contamination.

When it comes to abatement, no one provides a better solution than Vapor Armour. Our goal is to keep you up and running and restore your full capacity with as little loss as possible – keep the pool filled. If you’d like to hear more, you can contact us today for a full, free evaluation.

 

We offer the industry’s only 15 year ‘No Ice. No Condensation. No Cost.’ Warranty for all thermal-controlled building that install Vapor Armour™, DOW Deckmate™ Plus Insulation and a roofing system installed by Royalty Roofing