Time and resources, according to SafetyChain and The Acheson Group’s 2017 Food Safety & Quality Operations Survey. Four out of five respondents said these were barriers to getting a good night’s sleep. Other insomnia-inducing issues include internal and supplier performance, and visibility and access to data.

The survey sought to shed light on the challenges facing today’s food industry and how organizations are coping. Perhaps not surprisingly, many of the hurdles center on recordkeeping, access to resources, and visibility into operations.


The survey results show a wide range of understanding of and preparedness for FSMA.

Just under 70% of respondents said they do fall under it, 20% said they don’t, and 10% don’t know one way or the other. Only about three-quarters of respondents have completed a GAP assessment, which is roughly the same percentage who said they’re either working on or have already completed PCQI training.

Most respondents said they’ve either completed or are still working on their required written food safety plans. But these efforts are frequently hampered by outdated recordkeeping systems.


The industry is trending toward GFSI certification — 73% of respondents are already certified or working on it. This puts their companies in an excellent position to become FSMA compliant.

However, the lack of resources was apparent here. Over half of respondents said it was challenging or somewhat challenging just to keep their GFSI programs up to current code, and many reported having difficulty keeping track of records that apply to code elements, verifying that program tasks are complete and accurate, and demonstrating continuous improvement.

Supplier compliance

FSMA places new responsibilities on processors to assess and control risk across their supply chain, a requirement that many companies are finding it difficult to meet. A quarter of respondents said they don’t have visibility into supplier non-conformance, and 18% aren’t able to track and rank ongoing supplier performance.


On the whole, companies are fairly optimistic about their ability to handle audits, at least scheduled ones. More than 7 in 10 respondents said they’re prepared for scheduled audits, but only 35% are prepared for an unannounced visit.

Companies that are unprepared point again to the required documentation and recordkeeping. Only about half of respondents said their records are up-to-date and audit-ready.  

Company operations and culture

When it comes to food safety culture, the results show ample room for improvement: only 29% of respondents said they have an exceptional food culture. On the upside, they’re confident in training and knowing their role in food safety.


Overall, the survey results show a lot of positive movement, but also a lot of work to do. For the full results — including how operations are doing on continuous improvement, cost of quality, and sustainability — download the report.