U.S. fruit and vegetable industry likes the rules.

“The rules for imported foods and third-party auditor accreditation will have a critically important role in the safety of fresh produce,” said Tom Stenzel, president and CEO of United Fresh. “United Fresh will immediately begin a comprehensive review of these new draft rules and work closely with FDA to ensure that they contribute to our mutual goal of continued food safety improvement.”

“Initially, we don’t see any surprises in FDA’s draft rules on imported foods and third-party auditor accreditation,” said David Gombas, senior vice president for food safety and technology. “However, it’s important that we thoughtfully review them in a line-by-line fashion, including analysis of their interaction with other FSMA draft rules, to ensure they advance food safety and are workable for the industry.”

Rules highlights:

  • All foreign suppliers must have a U.S. importer agent of record.
  • All importers must have a written Food Safety Verification Program.
  • All FSVPs must be reassessed within 3 years, or when there have been significant changes.
  • The importer must conduct verification activities to ensure the foreign supplier 1) has controlled each of the hazards identified in the importer’s hazard analysis and 2) is in compliance with relevant FDA regulations.
  • Instead of an onsite audit, an importer may use an FDA inspection or inspection of the foreign operation by an officially recognized food safety authority of the supplier’s country, if performed within the past 12 months.
  • There are modified provisions (no exemptions) for “very small importers” or importing from a “very small supplier”, defined as $500,000 or less annual food sales.