The Food and Drug Administration has announced the following one-day public meetings to provide importers and others an opportunity to have an in-depth discussion on the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act import safety programs; i.e., foreign supplier verification programs for importers of food for humans and animals, accreditation of third-party certification bodies and the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program.

- June 7, Costa Mesa, Calif. (register by May 26)

- June 15, Rutherford, N.J. (register by June 3)

- June 21, Detroit, Mich. (register by June 10)

These meetings will feature discussion of the next phase of FSMA implementation related to import safety programs, which includes establishing the operational framework for these programs and plans for guidance documents, training, education and technical assistance.

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 VQIP. 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.

The VQIP will provide for expedited review and importation of human and animal food by participating importers. The FDA believes that expedited entry under the VQIP will incentivize importers to adopt a robust system of supply chain management and further benefit public health by allowing the FDA to focus its resources on food entries that pose a higher risk to public health. The program is still in development and is expected to launch in fiscal year 2018.

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