On November 13, 2015, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized new rules updating the bipartisan Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The new rules will “establish enforceable safety standards for produces farms and make importers accountable for verifying that imported food meets U.S. safety standards.” A rule was also established that created third-party certification bodies which will perform food safety audits in foreign food facilities.
The three rules released are “referred to as the Produce Safety rule, the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs rule, and the Accredited Third-Party Certification rule.” The stream of recent foodborne illnesses that have occurred over the last few years highlighted to the FDA the need for updates to food safety rules.
The Produce Safety rule “establishes science-based standards for growing, harvesting, packing, and holding produce” which are designed to minimize risk of illness when consuming contaminated produce. The Foreign Supplier Verification Programs rule requires food importers in the U.S. that have received imported foreign foods, that these foods are meeting U.S. safety standards and meet the same standards of food safety as domestic farms. The importers are required to conduct various verification activities. The Accredited Third-Party Certification creates a program where “third-party certification bodies…conduct food safety audits and to certify that foreign food facilities and food produced by such facilities meet applicable FDA food safety requirements.”