The software makes it easier for food facilities to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act.
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As anyone who has ever gotten a driver's license or filled out their taxes or built a house or done pretty much anything that involves the government can attest to, adhering to government regulations can be tricky. That's especially true if you run a business, where a whole new set of regulations apply. And if your company deals with food, that's yet another layer of regulations that has to be dealt with. This isn't to say such regulations are bad: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 48 million Americans get sick from foodborne illness each year, so anything we can do to lower that number is in everyone's best interest.

To help things along, this week the Food and Drug Administration announced that it has launched Food Safety Plan Builder software that attempts to help food facilities adhere to the Food Safety Modernization Act, a law signed in 2011 that, according to the agency, enable the FDA to "focus more on preventing food safety problems rather than relying primarily on reacting to problems after they occur." The software provides a simple question and answer platform to create the legislation's mandatory food safety plan for businesses. The hope is that this free downloadable application will benefit smaller businesses which may not be able to afford a costly consultant.

The application covers an extensive list of sections: things like Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) & Prerequisite Programs, Hazard Analysis & Preventive Controls Determination, Process Preventive Controls, Food Allergen Preventive Controls, Sanitation Preventive Controls, Supply-Chain Preventive Controls and a Recall Plan.

Use of the software is completely optional (so companies that can afford one of those costly consultants, by all means, go for it), and the FDA stresses that the use of the software doesn't mean that a company's food safety plan is automatically approved by the agency. Additionally, the FDA promises that it "will not track or monitor use of the Food Safety Plan Builder"—which sounds like good news for any food business owners out there who just realized they've got some fixing up to do.