Under new FDA regulations, US food importers for the first time must ensure that imported food for humans and animal is as safe as domestically produced food.
Promulgated under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the rules set parameters for foreign supplier verification programs (FSVPs) that importers must create and follow to safeguard the nation’s food supply. Importers must have an FSVP program implemented by May 2017.
When the regulations were proposed in 2013, the FDA press release stated that
“[t]he new measures respond to the challenges of food safety in today’s global food system. Imported food comes into the United States from about 150 different countries and accounts for about 15 percent of the U.S. food supply, including about 50 percent of the fresh fruits and 20 percent of the fresh vegetables consumed by Americans.”
If you fail to comply with the new rules, it could result in disruption of your supply chain, delays in entry processing, and in some cases, the exclusion of your products from the U.S. marketplace.
Act now, since there is “little time to design, test and implement a Foreign Supplier Verification Plan,” warned the FDA’s former Director of Import Operations Domenic J. Veneziano. He also cautioned the new regulations are broad in applicability, “and include the actual CBP importer, as well as the owner or consignee of food being offered for import, and even the U.S. agent of the importer.” Further, Veneziano noted that the rules apply to large and smaller importers, and you should check to see if you qualify for a specific exemption from the FSVP requirements.
The proposed rules also call for an accreditation program for third-party auditors of imported food.