Food Retail Industry’s Take on FSMA Proposed Rules

Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Regulatory Counsel Erik Lieberman, representing the nation’s food retailers and wholesalers, emphasized the commitment of the supermarket industry to strengthening the food safety system while addressing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) public meeting, Proposed Rules on Foreign Supplier Verification Programs and the Accreditation of Third-Party Auditors/ Certification Bodies, in Washington, DC. Lieberman issued this statement following his remarks yesterday:

“FMI strongly supported the enactment of FSMA in order to strengthen our nation’s food safety system, and we believe that the regulations should be implemented in an effective, risk-based manner.

“Retailers and wholesalers source directly from international suppliers, as well as U.S. based importers.  The global food safety system is complex, consisting of customs brokers, food brokers, importers, warehouse and logistics providers all play a role.  We will seek greater clarification regarding the definition of ‘importer,’ since the FDA definition differs from what the industry has known under Customs rules, and it is the importer that bears the liability under FSMA.

“An annual onsite audit is one of the hallmarks of the Safe Quality Foods (SQF) program. FMI thus believes FDA should adopt option-one in the Foreign Supplier Verification Program final rule. This rule requires annual onsite audits for hazards controlled by a foreign supplier for which there is a reasonable probability that exposure to the hazard will result in serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals. We believe the agency should create a system that complements the Global Food Safety Initiative framework, rather than supplanting it.

“We strongly urge the agency to prioritize its review of the applications of foreign states for recognizing comparability of their food safety systems, and continue its work in educating the international community about the opportunities under FSMA. The more countries the FDA recognizes as having comparable systems, the less of a burden FSMA will impose.”

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