- Manufacturers may need additional assistance and clarifications from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding import safety rules under Food Safety Modernization Act guidelines, according to findings the FDA outlined in a 22-page report released last week.
- The report covers questions and challenges manufacturers face when complying with the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP), Accredited Third-Party Certification and the Voluntary Qualified Importer Programs (VQIP) rules under FSMA.
- FDA may be able to ensure manufacturers comply with the import safety rules faster if the agency can show the differences between the new system and current food safety practices and compliance schemes. This could be through case studies or by organizing FSVP compliance information by commodity and sector.
With the first compliance date for FSMA rules coming later this month, manufacturers could finally begin seeing the potential impact it will have on the industry, both domestically and internationally. Compliance for the FSVP rule isn't until later in 2017, so manufacturers still have time to work out any problems within their supply chain.
By that compliance date, they may also have seen firsthand how FDA will work with manufacturers and ingredient suppliers on the first rule—preventive controls—in terms of inspection protocols and consequences for noncompliance.
Regardless, there is work to be done to make sure importers and manufacturers are up to speed on what the new law means for them.
The FDA noted in its report that "importers will likely consider cost, return on investment and effort necessary to participant when deciding whether to sign up for VQIP, which will provide expedited clearance to qualified participants." This shows that as of now, manufacturers and their suppliers may not have enough information to determine the practicality and cost-effectiveness of that program for their own operations. The FDA may have to work quickly to release enough detailed supplemental guidance that manufacturers can use with enough time to make any necessary changes.