On November 13, 2015, FDA finalized rules implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that establish enforceable safety standards for produce farms and make importers accountable for verifying that imported food meets U.S. safety standards. It also issued a rule establishing a program for the accreditation of third-party certification bodies, also known as auditors, to conduct food safety audits of foreign food facilities.
The Produce Safety final rule establishes standards for growing, harvesting, packing, and holding produce that are designed to work effectively for food safety across the wide diversity of produce farms. The standards in the final rule include requirements for water quality, employee health and hygiene, wild and domesticated animals, biological soil amendments of animal origin (such as compost and manure), and equipment, tools, and buildings.
The Foreign Supplier Verification Programs rule requires food importers to verify that foreign suppliers are producing food in a manner that meets U.S. safety standards and that they are achieving the same level of food safety as domestic farms and food facilities. The final rule requires importers to conduct verification activities (such as audits of a supplier's facility, sampling and testing of food, or a review of the supplier's relevant food safety records) based on risks linked to the imported food and the performance of the foreign supplier.
The FDA also finalized a rule on Accredited Third-Party Certification. It establishes a program for the accreditation of third-party certification bodies (auditors) to conduct food safety audits and to certify that foreign food facilities and food produced by such facilities meet applicable FDA food safety requirements. FDA can require in specific circumstances that a food offered for import be accompanied by a certification from an accredited third-party certification body.