Experts predict online grocery sales will reach a staggering $160.91 billion in 2023, and the number of digital grocery buyers nationwide is expected to hover around 147.8 million. This considerable increase in online orders amplifies the demand for superior-quality food warehouses and reliable fulfillment partners to deliver consumables.
As a merchant, your warehousing selection must align with the high expectations of this booming online marketplace.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a pivotal ally in ensuring the health and safety of consumers across the United States. They ensure your customers receive safe, hygienic, and accurately labeled products.
Finding an FDA-compliant warehouse is essential, as it affects the integrity of your products, the trust of your customers, and your brand reputation. A single food safety incident can shake up (or, worse, ruin) a brand, so FDA compliance in your supply chain, including warehousing, is paramount.
Keep reading as we simplify the selection process so you can contract with warehouses that excel in FDA-compliant food handling and storage.
The FDA’s expansive regulatory authority intersects with several other government agencies’ jurisdictions. That overlap often leads to confusion among consumers seeking to identify the correct regulatory agency to contact.
Here’s a brief list of product categories that the FDA traditionally regulates:
Note that, while these categories are broad, they’re not exhaustive, and the FDA’s jurisdiction may extend beyond them.
FDA regulations for food and beverage storage cover various aspects, including sanitation, temperature control, pest management, and more. Understanding these requirements is crucial for maintaining the safety and quality of your products during storage.
First, you must complete FDA registration for your facility. The FDA doesn’t charge a registration fee, and the initial sign-up is a one-time process.
“FDA approval” is primarily granted to specific products, such as drugs or additives, not to companies, buildings, laboratories, or manufacturers. However, the FDA retains the right to inspect regulated facilities to ensure their adherence to the relevant manufacturing laws.
Food storage facilities are subject to regular on-site inspections from the FDA. The enactment of the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011 increased the frequency of these inspections for food manufacturers, processors, and holders. How often they occur is based on a food facility’s categorization into either high-risk and non-high-risk operators. The criteria for this determination include:
If you’re uncertain whether your food warehouse falls in the “high-risk” category, contact the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
According to the FSMA, the FDA will inspect domestic, high-risk food-holding facilities at least every three years. Meanwhile, if your facility is categorized as non-high-risk, you can expect FDA inspections at least once every seven years.
Food-grade warehouses must devise, uphold, and present an in-depth HARPC strategy to the FDA.
A HARPC strategy is a written blueprint outlining procedures to mitigate opportunities for foodborne illnesses to arise within facilities that handle food, which includes warehouses and distribution centers. This plan should include:
Warehouses certified for food storage have to adhere to federal sanitary operation standards. These practices, contained within the Code of Federal Regulations, state:
Facilities are also required to possess infrastructure for cleaning, including hand-washing and surface sanitation. That encompasses a water supply, plumbing, sinks, and an effective waste-handling system.
FDA requirements may seem like tedious box-ticking, but they’re meant to protect food safety — a significant factor in earning and keeping customers’ trust. Consumers prioritize the integrity of the foods they consume, so your commitment to meeting FDA standards is crucial to elevate your brand’s reputation and grow your following.
Not to mention, failing to abide by FDA regulations can have severe repercussions ranging from fines to store closures. A lack of compliance can also lead to food contamination, which creates health risks for consumers and damages your brand reputation.
When selecting the right warehouse for your consumables, take your time and be overly critical.
Research potential warehouses extensively, focusing on their track records of compliance and any previous audit reports. Look for solid evidence of their adherence to FDA regulations.
Crucial questions to ask during the warehouse selection process include:
A physical inspection of a potential warehouse is your opportunity to verify the information you’ve received on it.
Observe the overall organization and cleanliness of the storage areas. Check the operational state of temperature control systems, and ensure there are clear demarcations for allergenic or potentially cross-contaminating materials.
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) certification is a globally recognized food safety standard. You can feel confident that warehouses with HACCP certification are committed to minimizing the risk of food safety hazards.
Be aware though that, while HACCP is excellent for food safety, its primary focus is on pre-packaged goods. It doesn’t address direct food handling; that has its own set of requirements.
MyFBAPrep has a host of HACCP-certified warehouses in-network. These facilities are ideal for storing pre-packaged goods and adhering to stringent safety standards, offering you peace of mind.
Whether you’re a seasoned merchant or a newcomer to the industry, staying in line with regulations is non-negotiable for your business. Let’s explore how to keep up with changes to ensure ongoing compliance.
Audits are the backbone of a robust compliance strategy, serving as preventive maintenance to avoid costly regulatory violations.
Conduct audits of your warehouse operations regularly to identify and correct any gaps in FDA compliance. During them, you should:
All of these aspects directly affect your warehouse’s ability to abide by FDA regulations.
Adding to the complexity, these requirements aren’t static; they continually evolve based on new research, technological advancements, and lessons learned from food safety incidents. Therefore, it’s vital to stay informed about any changes or updates to FDA standards.
Remember, ignorance of a rule change doesn’t exempt you from compliance. Subscribe to FDA announcements, participate in industry forums and workshops, and routinely check the FDA’s official website so you’re not left in the dark.
An FDA-compliant warehouse is a strategic business decision that directly impacts your brand’s reputation, customer trust, and success. It offers assurance that your products are stored safely and handled correctly.
Finding a warehouse that satisfies eCommerce FDA requirements doesn’t have to be a daunting task if you have the right help. MyFBAPrep simplifies this process, serving as a trusted partner in your quest for reliable, FDA-compliant warehousing. With their robust network, including warehouses that meet FDA and HACCP standards, MyFBAPrep can support your food and beverage storage needs.
Safety must come first when selling consumables. Be strict in following the rules so you’ll feel confident in your operations, from acquisition to the final sale.