On July 26, 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed two new rules holding food companies accountable for the safety of imported food, and establishing a program for the accreditation of third-party auditors to certify foreign food facilities. The rules are promulgated under the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
The first proposed rule requires importers to maintain a “foreign supplier verification program.” The goal of this program is to make imported food as safe as U.S. produced products. The second proposed rule allows FDA to recognize companies or foreign governments as “accreditation bodies.” Once so recognized, an accreditation body can approve third parties to audit and certify the safety of food and food facilities.
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a statement: “Today's announcement of these two new proposed rules will help to meet the challenges of our complex global food supply system … Our success will depend in large part on partnerships across nations, industries and business sectors.” The Grocery Manufacturers Association, a leading food industry group based in Washington D.C., expressed a similar sentiment in a statement: “We are very pleased that implementation of FSMA is moving forward and look forward to working with the FDA by continuing to share our food safety expertise and best practices and by evaluating and commenting on these and future proposed rules.”
The FDA is accepting comments on the new proposals for the next 120 days.