In November 2015, I first learned about what it means to be an FSVP (Foreign Supplier Verification Program Rule) importer and what the potential consequences meant to the retail customer in the United States. At the time, the FDA had not provided much guidance of what it meant to be FSVP Importer. The US Food Industry was anxiously waiting on the definition to be finalized.
Since then, we have discovered that the FSVP importer can be multiple entities, but the most important part is that the person or company MUST be in the United States. This shifted the way that the United States views an importer of foods. The US Customs definition does not require the importer to be in the United States to clear Customs. So, when the FDA announced their requirement of FSVP importer to be in the United States, the entire food industry had to change the way they managed their food safety programs.
So, what does this mean for the importer community? In 2017, as the law went into effect, many retailers, manufacturers and food service companies sent out policy letters stating that they did not want to be the FSVP importer, in the event that there were 2 or more potential FSVP importers. This put the importers and suppliers into a new position of needing to conduct food safety vetting and compliance to the FDA laws. From my experience with one of the largest grocery retailers in the United states, most importers do not extend that service to their customers. Some do, but many do not and act just as a facilitator in the business.
If you are importing goods to sell to another company in the United States, chances are your US Customs broker is going to ask for 3 fields to be filled in:
- FSVP Importer
- Unique Identifier (Dun's of the FSVP Importer)
- Email contact for the FSVP Importer.
But with those fields comes a lot of responsibility. It's not just filling in those fields, but it is evaluating if the foods supplied by that foreign supplier are safe to consume in the United States and documenting appropriately per the FSVP that the supplier meets those requirements and is mitigating all risks associated with the foods according to the US Law.
If you agreed to be that FSVP importer, do are you agreeing to do that work?
Your customer believes that you are.
If you are not ready, that's where Safe Food En Route, LLC comes in. We can conduct those activities for you and provide you with the FSVP importer field information to provide your US Customs broker.
Take it from me - an experienced food safety professional with a Fortune 500 Retailer - it is much more economical to hire an outside professional to conduct the 1-offs than to hire a food safety professional to manage this program for you. Go to the Home page and add your email to receive more information about our services or go to the Store section to go ahead and receive the services needed.