The Food and Drug Administration will hold a public meeting March 21 in College Park, Md., to discuss import safety regulations and programs. Stakeholders who are unable to participate in person may register to join this meeting via webcast. Following the meeting the FDA plans to continue a dialogue on the implementation of import safety programs with a series of regional meetings across the U.S.

At this meeting the FDA will brief participants on the key components of its final rules on foreign supplier verification programs for importers of food for humans and animals and accreditation of third-party certification bodies. The FSVP final rule requires importers of food to verify that (a) their foreign suppliers use processes and procedures that provide the same level of public health protection as the preventive controls and produce safety regulations, where applicable, and (b) the food they import is not adulterated and not misbranded with respect to food allergen labeling. The third-party certification final rule adopts regulations to provide for accreditation of third-party certification bodies to conduct food safety audits of foreign entities, including registered foreign food facilities, and to issue food and facility certifications under FSMA. Certification will be required to establish eligibility for the voluntary qualified importer program. In addition, to prevent potentially harmful food from reaching U.S. consumers, in specific circumstances the FDA may require a food offered for import to be accompanied by a certification.

Also at this meeting the FDA will discuss (a) the status of the VQIP, which is still in development and is expected to launch in fiscal year 2018, (b) the FDA’s comprehensive planning effort for the next phase of Food Safety Modernization Act implementation relating to import safety programs, which includes plans for guidance documents, training, education and technical assistance, and (c) the development of a risk-based industry oversight framework that is at the core of FSMA.

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