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HHS/FDA RIN: 0910-AG64 Publication ID: Fall 2015 
Title: Foreign Supplier Verification Program 
Abstract:

This rule describes what a food importer must do to verify that its foreign suppliers produce food that is as safe as food produced in the United States. FDA is taking this action to improve the safety of food that is imported into the United States.

 
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services(HHS)  Priority: Economically Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: Yes  Unfunded Mandates: Private Sector 
EO 13771 Designation: uncollected 
CFR Citation: Not Yet Determined     (To search for a specific CFR, visit the Code of Federal Regulations.)
Legal Authority: 21 U.S.C. 384a    title III, sec 301 of FDA Food Safety Modernization Act    Pub. L. 111-353, establishing sec 805 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act)   
Legal Deadline:
Action Source Description Date
Final  Judicial  To the Office of the Federal Register for publication.  10/31/2015 

Statement of Need:

The 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 percent 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, as applicable, and is not adulterated or misbranded. This proposed rule on the content of foreign supplier verification programs (FSVPs) sets forth the proposed steps that food importers would be required to take to fulfill their responsibility to help 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 one 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 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 applicable 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 are still estimating the cost and benefits for this 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 rule will consist of the reduction of adverse health events linked to imported food that could result from increased compliance with applicable requirements, and are accounted for in the proposed rules that contain those requirements.

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. We expect that the adoption of FSVPs by food importers will benefit the public health by helping to ensure that imported food is produced in compliance with other applicable food safety regulations.

Timetable:
Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  07/29/2013  78 FR 45729   
NPRM Comment Period End  11/26/2013 
NPRM Comment Period Extended  11/20/2013  78 FR 69602   
NPRM Comment Period Extended End  01/27/2014 
Supplemental NPRM  09/29/2014  79 FR 58573   
Supplemental NPRM Comment Period End  12/15/2014 
Final Rule  11/00/2015 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Yes  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: Yes 
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 4250, 10903 New Hampshire Avenue,
Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002
Phone:301 796-4614
Fax:301 847-3541
Email: brian.pendleton@fda.hhs.gov