FDA releases two more FSMA rules

Produce3_blogThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed two new rules that place more emphasis on prevention of food safety issues in imports from foreign countries, rather than just inspections at their port of entry.

The rules, commonly called the foreign supplier verification rule and the accredited third party audit certification rule, are the latest to come from the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which aims to make food safety more preventive rather than reactive.

The foreign supplier rule would require importers to ensure foods and animal feed being shipped the U.S. were “produced in a manner consistent with U.S. standards”. This includes identifying hazards that could be associated with each food, implementing documented verification procedures, such as audits, sampling and testing, and taking corrective actions should they discover a hazard isn’t being properly controlled, according to a statement from the FDA.

It also would require importers to verify risk-based preventive controls, and that the product is not adulterated and does not contain unlabeled or mislabeled food allergens.

“We will continue to check food at our borders. However, rather than relying almost entirely on FDA’s investigators at the ports to detect and respond to food safety problems, importers would—for the first time—be held accountable for verifying, in a manner transparent to FDA, that the food they import is safe,” said Michael R. Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine.

The third party accreditation rule would create a way for third-party auditors to become accredited, allowing them to conduct food safety audit and issue certifications. It also would set up a way for foreign governments or private companies to accredit these auditors, who would have to still meet FDA standards.

The new rules are open for comment for 120 days.

“We must work toward global solutions to food safety so that whether you serve your family food grown locally or imported you can be confident that it is safe,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, in a statement. “Today’s announcement of these two new proposed rules will help to meet the challenges of our complex global food supply system. Our success will depend in large part on partnerships across nations, industries, and business sectors.”

Around 15 percent of the U.S. food supply is imported, with almost 50 percent of fruit and 20 percent of vegetables coming from countries other than the U.S. The U.S. imports food from roughly 150 different countries.

The two proposed rules join two others, the preventive control rule and the produce safety rule.  The rules, proposed in January, currently are in the midst of an extended comment period slated to end in September. However, FDA also announced today it intends to extend these comment periods another 60 days to allow stakeholders to comment on the rules while taking the new rules proposed today into consideration.

FDA still is working on the preventive control rule for animal food, which is similar to the preventive control rule for humans.

Read more on FSMA from Neogen blog.

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