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FDA releases imported food safety guide

The Food and Drug Administration released a statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., and Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas February 25 on a new strategy to advance FDA’s food safety mission and modernize oversight of imported food.

“Today, we’re taking an important, new step to communicate how the FDA intends to use our modern toolkit by introducing a new, comprehensive, imported food safety strategy to address these challenges and opportunities.

Our new strategy is designed to meet four important goals: preventing food safety problems in the foreign supply chain prior to entry into the U.S.; effectively detecting and refusing entry of unsafe foods at U.S. borders; responding quickly when the FDA learns of unsafe imported foods; and measuring our progress to ensure that our imported food safety program remains effective and efficient.

To achieve our first goal of preventing imported safety problems prior to entry into the U.S., we’ll take new steps to continue to ensure that food offered for import meets the same standards as domestically produced food. One of our tools to achieve this goal is onsite inspections of foreign food facilities.

These valuable inspections are resource-intensive, so our strategy will involve a more modern focus on tools for risk-informed prioritization of firms for inspection. Our decisions will be informed by an increasing amount of data and information from other oversight activities and partners. To that end, we also recently began inspections for the FDA’s Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) rule.

This program requires importers to verify that their suppliers are meeting U.S. food safety standards. Some key requirements under this rule include obligating U.S.-based importers to conduct hazard analyses, perform evaluations of the risk of the food and foreign suppliers, and conduct safety verification activities based on the identified hazards, including the use of third-party audits as appropriate.”

The statement in its entirety can be read here.