Foreign Supplier Verification Program

Importers need to be aware of the new Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) being implemented by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as part of their implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This program will affect importers of food whether for humans and/or animals.

As explained on the FDA web page, an FSVP is “a program that importers covered by the rule must have in place to verify that their foreign suppliers are producing food in a manner that provides the same level of public health protection as the preventive controls or produce safety regulations, as appropriate, and to ensure that the supplier’s food is not adulterated and is not misbranded with respect to allergen labeling.”

The Importer of record is responsible for:

  • Determining known or reasonably foreseeable hazards with each food
  • Evaluating the risk posed by a food, based on the hazard analysis, and the foreign supplier’s performance
  • Using that evaluation of the risk posed by an imported food and the supplier’s performance to approve suppliers and determine appropriate supplier verification activities
  • Conducting supplier verification activities
  • Conducting corrective actions

FDA explains that importers are required to “identify and evaluate—based on experience, illness data, scientific reports and other information—the known or reasonably foreseeable hazards for each type of food it imports to determine if there are any hazards requiring a control.” This includes biological hazards (e.g. parasites and bacteria), chemical hazards (e.g. pesticides), and physical hazards (e.g. glass).

Compliance with the new regulations will be required on the latest of the following dates:

  • 18 months after publication of the final rule (which was on 11/27/2015);
  • For the importation of food from a supplier that is subject to the preventive controls or produce safety rules, six months after the foreign supplier is required to meet the relevant regulations;
  • For an importer that is itself a manufacturer or processor subject to the supply-chain program provisions in the preventive controls regulations, the date by which it has to comply with those provisions. A range of compliance dates were established in the preventive controls rules for the supply-chain program provisions, which vary based on the size of the receiving facility and when the receiving facility’s supplier is required to comply with the new FSMA regulations.

As always, please contact your local C J office if you have questions.