The United States Customs and Border Protection has issued a reminder to all food and beverage companies: under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) all domestic and foreign facilities that manufacture, process, pack or hold food for human or animal consumption in the United States must register with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This registration requirement is not optional. Facilities must renew their registration every other year. This requirement means that not only must you register your own facilities, you must ensure that all of your suppliers’ facilities are registered. 

Starting February 1, 2013, if a foreign food facility is required to register with the FDA, but fails to do so, all product imported or offered from that facility may be refused entry into the United States. Customs and Border Protection warned that “a significant number of food facility registrations (FRRs) that were not renewed by January 31, 2013 are currently in the process of being modified to an invalid status by the FDA. As a result, imported food shipments manufactured by those facilities without valid registrations may be held at the port or refused upon arrival in the U.S.” 

Because the detention or refusal of entry of goods can have serious consequences, food and beverage companies should immediately contact their foreign suppliers of both finished goods and ingredients to ensure that all of those suppliers’ facilities are registered with the FDA. In addition, importers should have supply contracts in place that impose upon the suppliers the obligation of complying with all state and federal laws in the United States. It is also good practice to require suppliers to carry appropriate insurance and agree to indemnification for any losses sustained as a result of the suppliers’ failure to comply with any law or regulation.