Scott Gottlieb and Frank Yiannas Discuss New FDA Strategy for the Safety of Imported Food
WASHINGTON, D.C. - I’m sure I don’t have to tell you all, but imports are a huge chunk of the U.S. economy’s fresh produce business. In fact, imports make up 32 percent of the fresh vegetables and 55 of the fresh fruit that U.S. consumers enjoy, according to the most recent FDA data. In support of that information, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., and Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas have outlined a new strategy to assure that all imports to the U.S. go through the same rigorous food safety standards that domestic product does.
“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,” said Gottlieb and Yiannis in a joint statement. Our new strategy is designed to meet four important goals…”
The four goals as outlined by Gottlieb and Yiannis are:
- 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
- Measuring our progress to ensure that our imported food safety program remains effective and efficient
While the statement outlines several new and continuing FDA initiatives designed to help achieve those four goals, here are a few highlights:
- The FDA will continue to inspect for the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) rule—this requires importers to verify that their suppliers are meeting U.S. food safety standards
- The FDA has launched the Accredited Third-Party Certification program to prevent imported food safety problems prior to entry into the U.S.
- Importers can apply for the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP), which offers expedited review and entry of their food based on the safety assurances that the audits provide
- The FDA will utilize a systems recognition program that recognizes other countries’ food safety systems and oversight activities, therefore the FDA can avoid conducting separate and repetitive inspectional oversight activities
- The FDA will update its import screening and review processes at the U.S. border using its Predictive Risk-based Evaluation for Dynamic Import Compliance Targeting (PREDICT)—this is an automated import screening tool that helps the FDA to identify high-risk shipments of food offered for import
- The FDA intends to optimize PREDICT by incorporating new sources of data from foreign supplier verification programs, voluntary importer incentive programs, accredited third-party auditors, foreign regulatory authorities, and domestic supply chain activities
- The FDA will use data from multiple sources to optimize use of physical examination and to develop strategic and targeted surveillance sampling that targets the highest-risk products for sampling assignments
- The FDA will improve the efficiency of its response to food safety incidents by using mandatory recall authority, import alerts, and improved information sharing with our regulatory partners as appropriate.
- The FDA will be developing an improved global inventory of food facilities and farms to help optimize the FDA’s resource allocation for imported food safety oversight to areas of higher risk and help us strategically employ the full range of our regulatory tools as effectively as possible
To learn more about the FDA’s new strategy for food safety in imports, visit the administration’s dedicated website here. AndNowUKnow will be continuing to investigate just how this will affect suppliers and buyers in the produce industry, so keep coming back for the latest updates.