“Under the Act, private label retailers are required to provide the certification from an accredited certification entity or other assurances that their foreign-supplied food products are FDA compliant,” she says. “The Secretary can refuse entry of imported foods whose certification or assurances are not deemed valid or reliable.
“Although domestic suppliers governed by the Act have an independent duty to ensure that they are compliant with the new FDA requirements," Lai continues, “private label retailers doing business with these domestic suppliers should also make their own determination that their suppliers are indeed compliant, such as asking to see a current registration with the FDA as defined under the Act.”
"While the Act is an important step forward in further protecting America's food supply, it exempts small food producers from some regulations and oversight," says Jorge Hernandez, senior vice president of food safety and quality assurance, U.S. Foodservice, Rosemont IL. "This could raise doubts about the integrity of some channels of the food supply chain. It is therefore critical that all food producers, large and small, continue working in good faith to adhere to the highest standards of food safety throughout the harvesting, processing, distribution, storage, handling and preparation phases. We must continue to work hard each day to earn the public's trust and confidence."
U.S. Foodservice, a longstanding food safety advocate, has supported this legislation since the bill was introduced in March, 2009. The company is a founding member of the GS1 Foodservice Initiative to improve the traceability of food – from 'farm to fork'.
"As a responsible and trustworthy partner to our customers and suppliers, we view food safety as a business priority," Hernandez added. "We continuously conduct comprehensive reviews of our products and their distribution chains to identify and eliminate, or minimize to the greatest extent possible, the food safety risks along the way. We hope these new food safety regulations will encourage all levels of the food chain to create a similar food safety culture within their organizations."
What Are The Major Elements Of The Law?
The elements can be divided into five key areas:
Preventive controls: For the first time, the FDA has a legislative mandate to require comprehensive, prevention-based controls across the food supply.
Inspection and compliance: The legislation recognizes that inspection is an important means of holding industry accountable for its responsibility to produce safe food; thus, the law specifies how often FDA should inspect food producers. The FDA is committed to applying its inspection resources in a risk-based manner and adopting innovative inspection approaches.
Imported food safety: The FDA has new tools to ensure that those imported foods meet US standards and are safe for consumers. For example, for the first time, importers must verify that their foreign suppliers have adequate preventive controls in place to ensure safety, and FDA will be able to accredit qualified third party auditors to certify that foreign food facilities are complying with U.S. food safety standards.
Response: For the first time, the FDA will have mandatory recall authority for all food products. The FDA expects that it will only need to invoke this authority infrequently since the food industry largely honors its requests for voluntary recalls.
Enhanced partnerships: The legislation recognizes the importance of strengthening existing collaboration among all food safety agencies—U.S. federal, state, local, territorial, tribal and foreign—to achieve its public health goals. For example, it directs the FDA to improve training of state, local, territorial and tribal food safety officials.
Food Safety Modernization Act And Recalls
By Jeff Pepperworth
The Food Safety Modernization Act expands the reach and regulatory powers of the FDA. In summary, it adds new responsibilities for food companies, new controls on imports, enhanced enforcement powers and new fees.
With respect to recalls, the Act gives FDA mandatory recall authority, which is an expansion of its power in this area. It is important for companies to note that “Refusal or failure to comply with an order…is a prohibited act, subject to injunction and criminal prosecution.”