U.S.: FDA issues warnings over FSVP violations
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has written to numerous companies over recent months for violations related to the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP).
The FSVP program is part of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and makes U.S. importers accountable for verifying that foreign suppliers are producing food in a manner that meets U.S. safety standards
The program was implemented gradually between May 2017 and July 2019, and so it is now fully in place for all U.S. importers and their suppliers.
At least six warning letters have been sent by the FDA since August. Three of these were sent in January alone, a signal enforcement of these provisions may be on the upswing.
Business owners have 15 days to respond to FDA warning letters, which often are not issued until a company has been given months to years to correct problems and not posted for public view until weeks or months after they are sent.
Of the six companies that have received warning letters, it appears that none are directly related to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Edmundo Araya, general manager of Chile-based Fruits-Safety SpA - which helps companies in the U.S. and Latin America meet the FSVP requirements - said that while generally all the large U.S. fruit companies are now compliant with the law, there were still many small and medium-sized organizations which are are not.
Among the program's requirements are that U.S. companies have a "qualified individual" to conduct FSVP activities, hazard analysis and its respective preventative controls, food and supplier evaluation, foreign supplier on-site verification, and corrective actions.
"There are a lot of companies in the U.S. which are only now beginning to work towards compliance with this law," he said. "But all the big importers already have a system in place and a qualified food safety employee."
Arraya said it could be years before every single importer in the fruit industry meets the requirements of the program, which he described as demanding and also one of the FDA's priorities within the FSMA.
However, the FDA is providing training to companies to help them understand the new law, while overseas companies, such as Chile-based Decofrut and Fruits-Safety SpA, are helping foreign producers and packers or exporters to comply with the law on their end by establishing a food safety plan to submit.