With the introduction of the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), there has been increased government regulation, as well as consumer awareness, treating beer as a food product. Alcohol beverages are now called out as food products, which fall under regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means an increased focus on the concepts of good manufacturing practices (GMPs), required to be in place in breweries, and food safety plans.
The Brewers Association Quality Subcommittee released Good Manufacturing Practices for Craft Brewers (GMPCB) in 2016, providing guidance to create GMPs in a craft brewery. GMPs are designed to create a suitable processing environment so that products are considered to be safe and suitable for human consumption. The information in this new resource, Food Safety Plan for Craft Brewers, is an extension of the GMPCBs, providing guidance for craft breweries to design and implement a food safety program in their brewery.
It is important to understand that food safety hazards are not restricted to pathogens. Food safety hazards can also include chemical and physical hazards that could harm a consumer. Beer is not guaranteed to be safe for the consumer, without the control measures in place to make it so.
The Food Safety Plan for Craft Brewers identifies some of the specific food safety hazards that exist in craft breweries. The listed hazards represent guidance and are not intended to be all-inclusive. Potential hazards will vary from brewery to brewery. Primary hazards addressed are package over-pressurization, object inclusion, chemical inclusions, allergens, and toxicants. Individual templates are customizable for each hazard. They include fields identifying the source of the hazard, the measures to implement and control the hazard, and other fields to assign responsibility and provide documentation. The templates allow every brewery to institute a food safety program that fits the needs of their particular facility.