lunes, 30 de mayo de 2011

Food Safety Modernization Act: What the New Law Means for Importers

With 15 percent of the U.S. food supply being imported each year from other countries, the globalization of today’s food supply was the driving factor of the recently passed Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which President Barack Obama signed into law Jan. 4.The new law aims to better regulation, specially for importers.

Under the new law, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has more power to monitor and regulate the food industry by creating a foreign supplier verification program, imposing an inspection frequency mandate at foreign food facilities, and claiming higher access to records.

It also has instituted new safety standards to detect and prevent outbreaks of food-borne illnesses, including mandatory recall authority when necessary to swiftly remove contaminated foods from the market if the responsible party refuses to issue a voluntary recall and cease distribution.

What does this mean for importers? Specifically, the law improves the FDA’s capacity to detect and respond to food safety problems for imported food, and requires the allocation of resources to inspect facilities and food products coming into the U.S. based on risk profiles. This means the FDA will conduct more inspections in foreign countries to ensure compliance with U.S. standards. Currently, the FDA is only able to complete around 1% of total food inspections, leaving a vast opportunity for third-party certifiers to fill.

The agency will also have expanded access to records and additional administrative enforcement capabilities should they believe that an article of food is potentially harmful. Additionally, the act charges the FDA with establishing a system for accrediting third-party auditors of foreign food facilities, ensuring that importers have the means to verify that their suppliers have systems in place to produce safe food, and collaborating more with foreign governments on food safety.

At its core, the law recognizes the Global Food Safety Initiative and FDA’s roles in improving food safety on a global scale, and places the primary responsibility for food safety on food producers and processors.


Aporte: Alejandra Avendaño.

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