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………………and levelling the playing field

As the European Commission is looking to review its inspection requirements, changes to the rules relating to imports area also being finalised in the USA. They have been described as “Aiming to Even the Playing Field between Domestic and Foreign Food Suppliers”. The process is intended to ensure that products from abroad are produced in accordance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) being applied domestically.

So a Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) is being started to fulfil the part of Section 301 of the FSMA regulations which require food importers to provide the FDA with adequate assurances that their foreign food suppliers provide the same level of food safety as that required of domestic food suppliers. Food importers will have to participate in an FSVP to verify that foreign food suppliers are using appropriate preventative controls. An importing company failing to comply with an FSVP could result in the food they are importing being refused admission into the U.S

The new proposed rules will also allow the FDA to establish a third-party audit and certification program. Under this certification program the FDA recognizes accreditation bodies that accredit third-party auditors and certification bodies that audit foreign food facilities and issue food and facility certifications.

Under the proposed rule, food facility audits by third-party auditors must be unannounced and include a records review, an on-site assessment and, where appropriate, an environmental or product sampling and analysis.

For some exporters to the USA and some of the US importing companies this sounds like more complexity and management worries. For companies using systems like the QADEX supplier monitoring service this would be so straightforward and simple. The auditors’ and certification companies’ status of recognition could be checked and kept up-to-date. Reports and reminders would help to reduce the risks of expensive dockside embargoes and blocking of date sensitive product and produce.

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