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HHS/FDA RIN: 0910-AG64 Publication ID: Fall 2011 
Title: Foreign Supplier Verification Program 
Abstract: The proposed rule would establish regulations concerning the content of foreign supplier verification programs. The regulations will require that each importer have a foreign supplier verification program that is adequate to provide assurances that each foreign supplier produces food in compliance with: (1) Processes and procedures that provide the same level of public health protection as those required under section 418 (concerning hazard analysis and risk-based preventative controls) or section 419 (concerning produce safety standards) of the FD&C Act; and (2) sections 402 (concerning adulteration) and 403(w) (concerning major food allergens) of the FD&C Act. In promulgating the foreign supplier verification regulations, we will, as appropriate, take into account differences among importers and types of imported foods, including differences related to the level of risk posed by an imported food. Methods of foreign supplier verification may include monitoring records for shipments, lot-by-lot certifications of compliance, annual on-site inspections, checking the hazard analysis and risk-based preventive control plans of foreign suppliers, and periodically testing and sampling shipments. 
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services(HHS)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Proposed Rule Stage 
Major: Undetermined  Unfunded Mandates: Undetermined 
CFR Citation: Not Yet Determined (To search for a specific CFR, visit the Code of Federal Regulations.
Legal Authority: Title III, sec 301 of FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, PL 111-353, establishing sec 805 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) 
Legal Deadline:
Action Source Description Date
Final  Statutory    01/04/2012 

Statement of Need: The proposed rule is needed to help improve the safety of food that is imported into the United States. Imported food products have increased dramatically over the last several decades. Data indicate that about 15% of the U.S. food supply is imported. FSMA provides the Agency with additional tools and authorities to help ensure that imported foods are safe for U.S. consumers. Included among these tools and authorities is a requirement that importers perform risk-based foreign supplier verification activities to verify that the food they import is produced in compliance with U.S. requirements and is not adulterated or misbranded. This proposed rule on the content of foreign supplier verification program (FSVPs) sets forth the proposed steps that food importers would be required to take to fulfill their responsibility to ensure the safety of the food they bring into this country.

Summary of the Legal Basis: Section 805(c) of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 384a(c)) directs FDA, not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of FSMA, to issue regulations on the content of FSVPs. Section 805(c)(4) states that verification activities under such programs may include monitoring records for shipments, lot-by-lot certification of compliance, annual onsite inspections, checking the hazard analysis and risk-based preventive control plans of foreign suppliers, and periodically testing and sampling shipments of imported products. Section 301(b) of FSMA amends section 301 of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 331) by adding section 301(zz), which designates as a prohibited act the importation or offering for importation of a food if the importer (as defined in section 805) does not have in place an FSVP in compliance with section 805. In addition, section 301(c) of FSMA amends section 801(a) of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 381(a)) by stating that an article of food being imported or offered for import into the United States shall be refused admission if it appears from an examination of a sample of such an article or otherwise that the importer is in violation of section 805.

Alternatives: We are considering a range of alternative approaches to the requirements for foreign supplier verification activities. These might include: (1) Establishing a general requirement that importers determine and conduct whatever verification activity that would adequately address the risks associated with the foods they import; (2) allowing importers to choose from a list of possible verification mechanisms, such as the activities listed in section 805(c)(4) of the FD&C Act; (3) requiring importers to conduct particular verification activities for certain types of foods or risks (e.g., for high-risk foods) but allowing flexibility in verification activities for other types of foods or risks; and (4) specifying use of a particular verification activity for each particular kind of food or risk. To the extent possible while still ensuring that verification activities are adequate to ensure that foreign suppliers are producing food in accordance with U.S. requirements, we will seek to give importers the flexibility to choose verification procedures that are appropriate to adequately address the risks associated with the importation of a particular food.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits: We have not yet quantified the cost and benefits for this proposed rule. However, the available information suggests that the costs will be significant. Our preliminary analysis of FY10 OASIS data suggests that this rule will cover about 60,000 importers, 240,000 unique combinations of importers and foreign suppliers, and 540,000 unique combinations of importers, products, and foreign suppliers. These numbers imply that provisions that require activity for each importer, each unique combination of importer and foreign supplier, or each unique combination of importer, product, and foreign supplier will generate significant costs. An example of a provision linked to combinations of importers and foreign suppliers would be a requirement to conduct a verification activity, such as an onsite audit, under certain conditions. The cost of onsite audits will depend in part on whether foreign suppliers can provide the same onsite audit results to different importers or whether every importer will need to take some action with respect to each of their foreign suppliers. The benefits of this proposed rule will consist of the reduction of adverse health events linked to imported food that could result from compliance with the FSVP requirements. We have not yet estimated the benefits of the rule.

Risks: As stated above, about 15 percent of the U.S. food supply is imported, and many of these imported foods are high-risk commodities. According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, about 48 million Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases. From July 1, 2007, through June 30, 2008, FDA oversaw 40 recalls of imported foods that were so contaminated that the Agency deemed them to be an imminent threat. We expect that the adoption of FSVPs by food importers will lead to a significant reduction to the threat to public health posed by unsafe imported food, though we are still in the process of trying to quantify the reduction in risk that will occur through importer compliance with the FSVP regulations.

Timetable:
Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  01/00/2012   
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Undetermined  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: Businesses  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
International Impacts: This regulatory action will be likely to have international trade and investment effects, or otherwise be of international interest.
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Brian L. Pendleton
Senior Policy Advisor
Department of Health and Human Services
Food and Drug Administration
Suite 3037 (HFD-7), Office of Policy, WO 32, Room 4245, 10903 New Hampshire Avenue,
Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002
Phone:301 796-4614
Fax:301 847-8616
Email: brian.pendleton@fda.hhs.gov

 
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