As FDA seeks greater assurance of a safe food supply with the regulation of imported products under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the produce industry is taking an active role working with FDA to meet this goal. Produce Marketing Association (PMA) has urged the FDA to build upon the existing foundation and create a structure that will meet FDA’s legal requirements. PMA’s comments also suggested that regulations incorporate existing industry practices – including those used outside of the U.S. – ensuring the quality and safety that consumers demand.
The FDA sought comments on the Foreign Supplier Verification Program, Voluntary Qualified Imported Program, authority for FDA to require import certifications from certain countries and accreditation of third-party auditors under FSMA. PMA also offered comments on laboratory accreditation and the critical role it plays in facilitating the entry of safe produce into the U.S.
The produce supply chain has long relied on each link to stand behind its products and PMA emphasized that the FDA should use the existing, extensive private audit and verification systems already in place. Noting the timeliness and importance of the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program to produce suppliers, PMA urged the FDA to prioritize having third-party certification rules in place at the earliest possible time. Implementing it as quickly as possible will provide immediate benefits to industry and FDA, stated PMA.
“These regulations must accommodate the seasonal nature and perishability of fresh fruits and vegetables with the ease and speed necessary to maintain product quality,” noted Kathy Means, PMA’s vice president of government relations and public affairs. “They must accomplish U.S. food safety goals without prompting retaliation from our trading partners that would jeopardize export markets, and must be flexible enough to be used by different types and sizes of businesses with varying levels of sophistication and technology use.
To view PMA’s comments to FDA, visit PMA’s Regulatory Interaction page on www.pma.com.
Source: PMA press release