On Thursday June 4, 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released draft guidance outlining the implementation of the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP). VQIP is a fee-based program, established by the Food Safety Modernization Act, that expedites the importation process for importers with a proven track record of food safety.
The aim of the program is to incentivize the adoption of practices that will improve importers’ supply chains and allow the FDA to focus resources to higher risk areas of food safety. The program rewards those importers that have maintained a strong record of food safety and benefits public health by allowing the FDA to shift focus to those importers with poorer track records.
The guidance contains the expected benefits of and the criteria for participation in the program. The document also details the instructions for applying to the program, as well as the scenarios that may result in an importer being removed from the program.
The draft guidance, once finalized, will represent the FDA’s current thoughts on the implementation of the program, and will not create any new binding regulations or duties on the part of the FDA or importers. There is no obligation on the part of an importer to take part in the program, as participation is purely voluntary.
The complete draft guidance is available here. Public comments on the draft are open until August 4, 2015, and can be submitted here.
Written by Tyler R. Etter- Research Assistant
June 9, 2015