The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Proposed Rule, Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals, imposes responsibilities on importers of food to verify that foreign suppliers meet preventive controls in order to identify hazards and/or address hazards before food is released in the public food supply.
IWLA supports the FSVP rule and the underlying goal of protecting the U.S. food supply; however, the rule language and definitions of responsibilities create the potential scenario where the third-party logistics providers would be considered the importer and responsible for foreign supplier verification.
The comments, slated to be filed with the FDA by Jan. 26, define the warehouse-based 3PL role in the supply chain as the intermediary storage provider of the product, not the importer, consignee, or agent for the foreign supplier. The comments build a strong case for the lack of knowledge from warehouse operations to perform the required verification activities and a strong need to clearly define that the 3PL warehouse should not be considered the importer, consignee or agent.
“Much of the discussion deals with various ways in which food items can make their way through the country after they arrive on shore: The product importer, the product purchaser, the consignee, the foreign owner, the shipper and 3PL warehouse can at one time or another be responsible for the product. Yet they all represent very different things in the overall supply chain and should be identified appropriately in the rule,” O’Connor says.
Much of what IWLA hopes to accomplish in filing comments is to promote additional protection of the food supply. “Verification of a foreign supplier should not fall by default to the 3PL warehouse,” O’Connor says. “The responsibilities for the consignee or agent are too great and the stakes for food safety too high for anyone to unknowingly become an agent or consignee for the FSVP.”P