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FDA Presents Rules Targeting the Safety of Imported Food

July 26, 2013

The Food and Drug Administration has issued two proposed rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act aimed at strengthening assurances that imported food meets the same safety standards as food produced domestically.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued two proposed rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) aimed at strengthening assurances that imported food meets the same safety standards as food produced domestically. These new measures respond to the challenges of food safety in today’s global food system, in which imported food comes into the U.S. from about 150 different countries and accounts for about 15% of the U.S. food supply. The guidelines are part of the effort mandated by Congress to modernize the food safety system and focus on preventing food safety problems, rather than relying primarily on responding to problems after they have occurred.
 
Under the proposed rule for Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP), importers would need to verify that their suppliers are meeting the same U.S. safety standards required of domestic producers. Requirements for verification activities would be primarily based on the type of food, nature of the hazard identified and on who—such as the foreign supplier, the importer, or the importer’s customer—is best able to control the hazard.
 
Under the proposed rule for Accreditation of Third Party Auditors, FDA would recognize accreditation bodies based on certain criteria such as competency and impartiality. The accreditation bodies, which could be foreign government agencies or private companies, would in turn accredit third party auditors to audit and issue certifications for foreign food facilities.
The two proposed rules work together with the standards proposed in January 2013 for produce safety and preventive controls in facilities that produce food for humans. The two proposed rules publish in the Federal Register on July 29, 2013. Comments on the two new proposed rules on the safety of imported food are due by 120 days from the publication date. 
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