The U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act is going into effect now. On May 30, 2017, a new regulation requiring U.S. food importers to identify their foreign suppliers and verify that they are using safe food processes and procedures became effective. But whether the industry will be in compliance remains highly uncertain. The Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) regulation was announced in November 2015, but many importers have either found it confusing about who is responsible for supplying the information, or have chosen to disregard it, assuming it is not their problem.
However, the FDA is clear in the regulation that the importer is the U.S. person who owns the product, purchased it, or agreed in writing to purchase it. The Customs Broker using the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s ACE (Automated Commercial Environment) to process food import entries will need to fill in a data field that identifies the FSVP importer, including the entities contact information and Dun & Bradstreet Number. Since the FSVP importer and the Customs Broker are not necessarily the same party, the information is not always readily available.
To satisfy the FSVP importer regulation, a company identified as the FSVP importer must establish an internal program to verify their food suppliers, or hire a qualified third party to perform this task. Verifications include on-site checks, food sampling and testing, reviews of suppliers food safety records and programs to prevent food contamination.