The Food and Drug Administration July 26 announced the Foreign Supplier Verification and Accredited Third Party Certification.

Part of the Food Safety Modernization Act, the proposed rules would make importers accountable for food safety and create standards for third-party audits of foreign food producers. About 15 percent of the U.S. food supply, including 50 percent of fresh fruit and 20 percent of fresh vegetables, is imported.

"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," says Margaret A. Hamburg, FDA commissioner.

Brian Pendleton, a senior policy advisor at FDA, explains that the import rules build on the two FSMA rules proposed earlier. "It's a way to ensure that imports meet U.S. safety standards," he says. "It's all part of a multi-pronged effort to improve the safety of both domestic and imported foods."

Importers would have to establish that the food being exported to the United States was according to U.S. standards.

"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," says Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine.