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FDA Recognizes Canada’s Food Safety System as Comparable to U.S. Allowing Modified FSVP Requirements

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has officially signed an “arrangement” with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada under which each country recognizes the other’s food safety systems as comparable. Canada’s food safety system is only the second that FDA has recognized as comparable, following New Zealand’s recognition in 2012. Reportedly, Australia and the European Commission are in process to achieve similar recognition. This arrangement will affect importers subject to FDA Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) final rule. The FSVP final rule – promulgated by FDA pursuant to the Food Safety Modernization Act - applies to importers of food, including importers of food-contact materials. Importers of food are partially exempt from the FSVP rule when that food is imported from a foreign supplier located in a country with a food safety system that FDA has officially recognized as comparable or determined to be equivalent to that of the United States. Specifically, importers of food from those countries are exempt from most of the standard FSVP requirements, including the hazard analysis and foreign supplier evaluation and verification requirements. Importantly, however, for the exemption to apply, the regulation specifies that the imported food must not be intended for further manufacturing or processing before consumption. The importer, however, is not exempt from the FSVP requirements related to importer identification at the time of entry and records retention. Importers of food from a country with a recognized or comparable food safety system also would need a qualified individual to document annually that the foreign supplier is within the regulatory oversight of the relevant foreign food safety authority and in good standing with that authority. The general compliance date for the FSVP provisions is May 29, 2017.  For further information on FSVP requirements, see the article, FDA’s New FSVP Rule and the Implications for Food Packaging.