According to the FDA, “15 percent of the U.S. food supply is imported, including nearly 50 percent of fresh fruit and 20 percent of fresh vegetables, and 80 percent of seafood.” The FDA has implemented a program called the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP). It is part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), a sweeping reform of the food safety laws aiming to shift the focus from responding to contamination problems to preventing them. On March 19, 2018, most imported food shipments became subject to the FDA’s FSVP requirements.
What is the FSVP?
FSVP ensures that the same food safety standards apply to all food consumed in the U.S. imported or not. It requires that importers perform varying levels of risk-based activities to verify food imported into the U.S. has been made in a way that meets U.S. safety standards and is not contaminated or containing false labeling concerning allergens. The FDA designed the regulation to be flexible based on risk, food product type, and the importer category. The FDA is the agency responsible for ensuring that importers meet the FSVP requirements.
What are the requirements of the FSVP?
According to the FSVP regulation, importers are responsible for detecting any foreseeable problems that are likely to cause injury for each type of food they import. These include biological, chemical, radiological and physical hazards, such as metal, glass, and pesticides. Risk based Preventive Control Analysis plays a crucial role in helping importers achieve compliance with the FSVP rule by securing the food supply chain through biological contamination detection and rejection while providing data about food safety and traceability. Importers can conduct their hazard analysis or review and assess one conducted by another organization.
Importers must verify the activities of international suppliers before importing their food. They must write and establish procedures to ensure that they only import food from approved international suppliers. Importers are further responsible for ensuring the international operators control their end over hazardous material in edible products. This control varies depending on what type of food, the type of exporter, and the management’s difficulty.
Importers must consider risk evaluations when choosing international exporters. Including whom their supplier is and how they verify their suppliers’ actions. If the supplier does not maintain adequate safety requirements, then the importer must take action. The action is determined on a case-by-case basis but could disqualify the exporters entirely until the supplier resolves their quality assurance problems. Records of these activities must be documented and maintained, including compliance reviews and quality assurance analyses.
Who should be your FSVP importer?
The FSVP importer is the U.S. owner or consignee of the food offered for import (i.e., owns the food, has purchased it or has agreed in writing to purchase it at the time of U.S. entry). If there is no U.S. owner or consignee at time of entry, the FSVP importer is the U.S. agent/representative of the foreign owner/consignee, as confirmed in a signed statement of consent. The key is that there be a FSVP importer in the United States who takes responsibility for meeting the FSVP requirements.
How T.H. Weiss Can Help
T.H. Weiss can serve on your behalf with the FDA requesting your food safety compliance at the time of importation. We can either act as the FSVP importer or adviser to the FSVP importer. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org today.