January 26 marked the first major compliance date for the Produce Safety Rule, one of the FDA’s new food safety regulations promulgated as result of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). FDA has begun distributing information to help impacted growers comply with the new rule that applies to domestic and imported produce.
Last January, the interview A Conversation with Samir Assar became available, where Samir Assar, Ph.D., the director of FDA’s Division of Produce Safety in the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, explains what will happen in the next stage of implementing the FSMA Produce Safety Rule. Also, draft guidance documents were released, which describe FDA’s current thinking on different FSMA related topics, such as guidance to help importers and food producers meet FSMA requirements.
Additionally, FDA has also launched the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP), a voluntary fee-based program which offers expedited review and entry of human and animal food into the United States. Importers interested in participating in VQIP will be required to meet a number of eligibility requirements, which include ensuring the facilities of their foreign supplier are certified under the Accredited Third-Party Certification Program.
Western Growers is supporting outreach efforts, such as hosting the Train-the-Trainer FSPCA Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) course on April 17 – 19, 2018 to increase the number of instructors who will be offering the regular FSVP class meant to educate importers on their role and responsibilities under the FSVP rule.
These resources and programs are aimed at assisting produce industry members with the tools needed to comply with FSMA. The agency is focused on “educating before regulating” and will not start inspections until 2019, but any impacted parties must meet compliance dates for all applicable FSMA rules.