Making Certain Imported Foods Meet U.S. Standards under FDA Food Safety Modernization Act:
LOOK OUT: OUR SOURCES SAY THAT THE FOREIGN SUPPLIER VERIFICATION PROGRAM MIGHT BE ANNOUNCED TOMORROW 7/26/13. GET READY!
About 48 million people (1 in 6 Americans) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year from foodborne diseases, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is a significant public health burden that is largely preventable.
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into law by President Obama on Jan. 4, enables FDA to better protect public health by strengthening the food safety system. It gives FDA new tools and authorities to make certain imported foods meet the same safety standards as foods produced in the U.S.
Building a new food safety system based on prevention will take time, and FDA is creating a process for getting this work done. Congress has established specific implementation dates in the legislation. The funding the Agency gets each year, which affects staffing and vital operations, will affect how quickly FDA can put this legislation into effect. FDA is committed to implementing the requirements through an open process with opportunity for input from all stakeholders.
The following are among FDA’s key new import authorities and mandates. Specific implementation dates specified in the law are noted in parentheses:
- Importer accountability: For the first time, importers have an explicit responsibility to verify that their foreign suppliers have adequate preventive controls in place to ensure that the food they produce is safe. (Final regulation and guidance due 1 year following enactment)
- Third Party Certification: The FSMA establishes a program through which qualified third parties can certify that foreign food facilities comply with U.S. food safety standards. This certification may be used to facilitate the entry of imports. (Establishment of a system for FDA to recognize accreditation bodies is due 2 years after enactment)
- Certification for high risk foods: FDA has the authority to require that high-risk imported foods be accompanied by a credible third party certification or other assurance of compliance as a condition of entry into the U.S.
- Voluntary qualified importer program: FDA must establish a voluntary program for importers that provides for expedited review and entry of foods from participating importers. Eligibility is limited to, among other things, importers offering food from certified facilities. (Implementation due 18 months after enactment)
- Authority to deny entry: FDA can refuse entry into the U.S. of food from a foreign facility if FDA is denied access by the facility or the country in which the facility is located.
Foreign Supplier Verification Program
I.2.1 What is the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) and how will it work?
The FSVP requires importers to conduct risk-based foreign supplier verification activities to verify that imported food is not, among other things, adulterated and that it was produced in compliance with FDA’s preventive controls requirements and produce safety standards, where applicable.
Foreign Supplier Verification Program
I.2.2 Who is subject to the foreign supplier verification program?
When the foreign supplier verification program’s requirements take effect, they will apply to all importers, unless there’s an exemption. The law defines “importer” as: (A) the United States owner or consignee of the article of food at the time of entry of such article into the United States; or (B) in the case when there is no United States owner or consignee as described in subparagraph (A), the United States agent or representative of a foreign owner or consignee of the article of food at the time of entry of such article into the United States.
I.2.3 What food does the program’s requirements apply to?
The requirements of the foreign supplier verification program will apply to all food imported by the importer or agent of the importer, unless there’s an exemption.