It is too easy to think that regulations by the United States (Food and Drug Administration) FDA only effect U.S. food companies. The reality is different. With a few exceptions, foods imported to the U.S will be impacted by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) through the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) for importers of food for humans and animals.
This FSVP “would help ensure that imported food is produced in a manner consistent with U.S. standards”. In essence that means that the same regulations that apply to U.S. food companies, also apply to non-U.S. based food companies that export their products to the US.
Importers will be accountable for verifying that product entering the U.S. is produced in accordance with U.S. laws and regulations. As a result of this increased accountability, importers will in turn put more pressure on foreign facilities and we will see an increased number of (third party) audits to ensure that food is produced in accordance with U.S. laws and regulations.
Therefore, it is important that importers of food to the U.S. but also foreign firms that desire to export to the U.S. understand the FSVP and the timing around implementation. There are presently revisions from the original proposed FSVP for which the comments period has just closed. These revisions include some language for consistency with other proposed FSMA rules, supplier verification, and hazard analysis.
The FDA, with the FSMA and FSVP in place, will look at the food system as a whole, food safety responsibility of all of its participants, and strengthen accountability for prevention throughout the entire food system – both domestically and internationally.
Like any of the new rules, not only is focus on the specifics of the rule important, but also vitally important is continued growth in food safety program and prerequisite program knowledge across a food company or plant. Training in food safety and sanitation for all levels of the organization has always been important, but as FSVP rules move to finalization, that message needs to be reinforced globally.
Author: Commercial Food Sanitation, Darin Zehr.