Speaking in front of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on behalf of Produce Marketing Association (PMA) members, Drs. Bob Whitaker and Jim Gorny are in Washington, D.C., commenting on the Accreditation of Third-Party Auditors and Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) proposed rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The FDA public meeting runs Sept. 19 to 20 to discuss these two proposed rules aimed at assuring imported food meets the same safety standards as food produced domestically.
Commenting on the FSVP proposal, Dr. Gorny, PMA vice president of food safety and technology, stated the produce industry has great expectations for this proposed rule. He said by providing a more preventive approach to import produce safety, the FSVP proposed rule would significantly reduce the frequency of produce testing at the border, which often causes severe and significant economic losses of perishable commodities.
“The Foreign Supplier Verification Programs proposed rule is incredibly important to the fresh produce industry because it provides the opportunity for FDA to shift from relying heavily on import surveillance and product testing at the port of entry, to a preventive approach of assuring the safety of imported produce,” said Dr. Gorny.
In his comments scheduled for Sept. 20 on the third-party accreditation proposal, PMA Chief Science and Technology Officer Dr. Whitaker will ask for greater definition on the circumstances for determining specific products from a foreign country will require a third-party audit. He’ll also request how an open and transparent system for accreditation and third-party audits will be balanced with protecting proprietary business information.
In addition, Dr. Whitaker will inquire about the agency’s plans for managing the approval and monitoring of accreditation bodies, dealing with audits reporting potential public health risks and how that data would be used to safeguard public health. Last, Dr. Whitaker will convey industry’s interest in engaging the agency in determining the impact foreign accreditation and certification might have on third-party auditing for domestic fruit and vegetable production.
PMA thanks FDA for expeditiously releasing the third-party accreditation and FSVP proposals and synchronizing comment periods with the previously released Produce Safety and the Preventive Controls for Human Food proposed rules. Earlier this year, PMA and others made this request to FDA so stakeholders could understand and comment on this portfolio of interrelated rules.
View Dr. Whitaker’s and Dr. Gorny’s complete FDA testimonies online at pmsa.com/fsma. For executive summaries of all released proposed rules, in English and Spanish, as well as a multi-media library of FSMA education, visit PMA’s online FSMA Resource Center at pma.com/fsma/es.