This is posting is a MUST READ for importers of food products (whether for humans or animals).
1.) The FDA published on July 26, 2013 a set of proposed regulations meant to help ensure that imported food meets the same level of public health protection as that required of domestic food producers. In doing so, they have created a proposed program (Food Safety Verification Program) that I believe will put a great burden on the food importing community.
The FSVP required importers to conduct audits and keep records of their suppliers. There are various exceptions. However most medium and large importers of food products will be required to greatly increase the record keeping of their food imports. The FDA has published a number of diagrams/flow charts that help explain to importers the possible required tasks they will have to follow. I highly recommend that importers familiarize themselves with the rules.
The potential impact of the rules is quite vast. I expect larger importers with strong relationships with large food manufacturers probably will be able to implement the FSVP the most smoothly. While they will have the most work to do, they will also have the manpower, expertise, and relationships necessary to make sure the FSVP is implemented. I am most worried for mid-sized and especially smaller food importers.
2.) FDA also published a proposed rule for Accreditation of Third-Party Auditors. What importers should understand is how FDA proposes to use 3rd party auditors. Thus far, they have mentioned three possible uses:
i. FDA is expected to create a Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) which is expected to allow for expedited review and entry of food into the United States. Such a program may be welcome news to importers who are tired of the length of time it is taking FDA to currently process entries. Under FDA’s proposed regulation, importers would have to import from certified facilities (reviewed by the accredited third-party auditors).
ii. FDA will have the power to required manufactures be certified by accredited third-party auditors as a condition of entry if FDA deems the product is a safety risk.
iii. FDA also expects that importers may voluntarily begin to rely on third-party auditors as a progress of complying the the FSVP even in instances where it is not a requirement to use a third-party auditor.
Keep in mind that the rules mentioned above are only “proposed” regulations. Now is the time for importers to put in their comments.
– Jimmy Ting
t: 650-873-9050 x1019