Identify Risks and Take Actions With Food Imports

Date of Publication: May 7, 2021

To keep a diverse, abundant, and delicious food supply into the United States, 15% of the food supply is imported, with over 200 countries importing food products like fruits, vegetables, and seafood. Importing food into the U.S. is an important business, but there are also many regulations that importers must be aware of, particularly the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rule on Foreign Supplier Verifications Programs.

What is an FSVP?

The FDA’s final rule on Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) went into effect in 2017. It requires importers to verify that food products imported into the U.S. were produced in a manner that meets any applicable U.S. safety standards. In particular, it works to prevent the risks of food products that are:

  • Adulterated
  • Misbranded, particularly in regards to allergens

Steps for Importers

To prevent issues that could arise from adulterated or misbranded food products being imported into the U.S., importers are responsible for developing and maintaining a FSVP for each food product being imported into the country. This requires them to determine any known or reasonably foreseeable hazards, such as:

  • Disease-causing bacteria
  • Physical contaminates, like glass or pieces of metal
  • Pesticides
  • Natural toxins
  • Unapproved additives
  • Decomposition

Along with identifying these types of hazards, an FSVP also requires food importers to consider risks that may arise during any step of the importing process, including:

  • Transportation practices
  • Storage and distribution
  • Harvesting, manufacturing, and processing procedures
  • Packaging and labeling procedures

After identifying any risks or potential risks, the FSVP final rule requires food importers to take corrective action to address these risks. Corrective actions vary depending on the hazard and situation, but could include anything from improving sanitation conditions at a food storage facility to discontinuing the use of a supplier. When a risk or foreseeable risk is discovered, importers should work promptly to take corrective action.

This content is intended for informational purposes. Due to the generality of this content, the provided information may not be applicable in all situations. We encourage the reader to review the most up-date-regulations directly with the U.S. government’s source on food importation, which can be found here.