Background

The Food and Drug Administration announced Jan. 31 that it has launched its Voluntary Qualified Importer Program, a fee-based program that will provide for expedited review and importation of human and animal food by participating importers who achieve and maintain a high level of control over the safety and security of their supply chains. The FDA believes VQIP benefits will incentivize importers to adopt a robust system of supply chain management and allow the agency to focus its resources on examining and sampling food imports that are more likely to present a potential risk to public health.

The VQIP launch was made possible because the FDA has recognized the first accreditation body under the Accredited Third-Party Certification Program, which accredits third-party certification bodies (auditors) to conduct food safety audits of foreign food entities and certify that they and the food they produce meet applicable FDA food safety requirements. These audits and certifications will be used by importers seeking to establish eligibility for the VQIP.

The FDA does not generally require certification as a condition of entry. However, in certain circumstances the FDA can require certification of imported products or the facilities that produce them, typically to prevent the entry of a potentially harmful food.

For more information on VQIP or other FDA-related issues, please contact Shelly Garg at (305) 894-1043.

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