FSMA – US Requirements to export and Import food products

Author: Sergio Ernesto Gutierrez Serdan
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the most extensive reform of our food safety laws in more than 70 years, was made into law by President Barack Obama on January 4, 2011. Its main aim is to make sure that the US food supply is safe by changing the focus from responding to contamination to averting it.
1. Necessity for food laws
From early days people have been concerned about food safety.The best practices for ensuring food safety are: Trial and error, prevention of fraud or adulteration, prevention of sale of unsafe foods.
2. Major Federal Laws
The major Federal laws are Food, Drug & Cosmetics Act- Authority over cosmetics, medical devices, foods and drugs.Federal Meat Inspection Act- Authority over cattle, sheep, swine, goats, horses when slaughtered and processed. It prevents adulterated and misbranded livestock and products.
3. Federal Agencies for Importation of foods
National Marine Fisheries Service, Environmental Protection Agency, works closely and share responsibilities.
4. Basic import procedures
Imported food faces higher procedural and legal hurdles (barriers) than domestic. Standard for import denial is: product “appears” to be adulterated or misbranded.
5. Basic import requirements
Should be imported within 5 working days of shipment arrival (OASIS/ABI).The other import requirements are prior notice (Bioterrorism Act), import facility registration with FDA (Bioterrorism Act), register and file processing information for low-acid/acidified low-acid canned foods, specific requirements for infant formulas and FSMA requirements.
6. Notice of Action: Refuse entry
In case of notice of action or refuse entry, an importer can request a hearing: defend acceptability of the product, apply for permission to re-label, re-condition, re-export, judicial review of the notice of refusal.
7. Title-III of FSMA
Title III deals with improving the safety of imported food. The main provisions are:Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSMA Sec. 301), Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (FSMA Sec. 302), Mandatory Import Certification Program (FSMA Sec. 303) and Third-party auditor Accreditation System (FSMA Sec. 307).

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