Are European Exporters to the US prepared for FSMA?

18 December 2015

Are European Exporters to the US prepared for FSMA?

Are European Exporters to the US prepared for FSMA?

Simon King, Head of Global Sales, Service and Marketing at Eagle Product Inspection, looks at the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and how the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) will impact European manufacturers and ingredients suppliers exporting to the US.

In January 2011, FSMA was signed into law by President Barack Obama and represents the most sweeping reform of US food safety laws for some 70 years.

Comprehensive preventive controls will be implemented across the food supply chain, with food facilities required to implement a written preventive controls or food safety plan. This will include evaluating hazards that could affect food safety, specifying which controls will be put in place to prevent or minimize those hazards, specifying how the facility intends to monitor controls in order to evaluate effectiveness and to outline actions that will be taken in order to correct any issues that may arise.

For European companies looking to export to the US, the FSVP rule will be the area on which to focus, as it requires US importers of food and ingredients to closely evaluate foreign suppliers to ensure they are producing products in accordance with US law.

European suppliers will need to scrutinize their food safety plans in order to ensure importers can verify the following areas:

  • Hazard Analysis is being performed
  • Which entity is minimizing or preventing the hazards (could be the foreign exporter or their materials supplier)
  • The foreign supplier's procedures, processes and practices related to the safety of food
  • Applicable FDA food safety regulations, and information regarding the foreign supplier's compliance
  • The foreign supplier's food safety history, including the responsiveness of the foreign supplier in correcting past problems
  • Other factors as necessary, including storage and transportation practices

A separate FSVP will be required for each food imported into the US and the foreign supplier of that food. Suppliers will also be evaluated on their performance by importers and must be approved prior to sending product, a process that may also be undertaken by a third party on their behalf. Once approved, ongoing verification activities may include sampling and testing of imported products, a review of food safety records and on-site facility audits.

As outlined above, the main objective of the FSVP rule is to protect consumers from exposure to contaminated foodstuffs. Employing x-ray technology on food production lines has several benefits relating to hazard analysis and food safety in particular. X-ray is able to inspect 100% of products or ingredients, from unpackaged, loose-flow items such as raw meat, to those packaged in a wide range of formats, such as plastic containers, pouches, trays and cartons, for example.

The ability to detect physical contaminants such as shards of glass, calcified bone, fragments of metal, mineral stone and even some plastic and rubber components is a vital aspect of food safety. As an example of how far manufacturers can drill down in terms of inspection, for those that need to inspect difficult product applications Material Discrimination X-Ray (MDX) Technology, pioneered by Eagle, has the ability to discriminate materials by their chemical composition - providing unprecedented levels of inspection capability.

Advanced software incorporated into x-ray systems also ensures relevant data, required in order to comply with FSVP rules, can be captured, stored effectively and quickly produced if required by US importers.

The final FSVP rule was published on 13 Nov 2015, and importers must be in compliance latest 18 months from this date. However, there is a range of dates for importers that are also manufacturers so it is important for exporters to check which applies to their product or ingredient.

It is also important to bear in mind that imported products regulated by the FDA that fail to comply with the same laws and regulations as domestic goods can be refused entry. An exporter of perishable goods risks product spoiling that they may not have been paid for in advance. The main burden of responsibility for FSVP compliance lies with the importer, therefore exporters would be well advised to check importers' levels of compliance as well as their own ahead of sending shipments.







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