3rd Party Accreditation to Expedite Importing Process
This past June, the Food and Drug Association created a new website that allows organizations to potentially be recognized as a Third-Party accreditation body, or third-party auditors. In order to become an accredited body, an organization will have to go through an online application process, which if successful, would give them the ability to conduct food safety audits. They would also be capable of issuing certifications of foreign entities and the food products that they produce, for both human and animal consumption.
The Accredited Third-Party Certification is a voluntary program which has been established by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
What is the Purpose of the FDA Third-Party Certification Program?
The main objective of the Accredited Third-Party Certification Program is to help establish eligibility for the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP). Additionally, in rare circumstances, the FDA can require that an imported product become certified to ensure that potentially harmful ingredients or substances do not cross the border into the U.S.
What is the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP)?
The Voluntary Qualified Importer Program was created to expedite the review of food products that are imported by voluntary participants. Participation in this program requires a fee and is limited to importers who meet all the criteria, which includes offering food from a facility that is certified under FDA’s accredited third party program. Having control over the safety and security of their supply chain is paramount.
Aside from having a certified facility, an applicant must also have at least a three year history of importing food into the U.S, with no ongoing FDA administrative or judicial action outstanding.
Benefits of VQIP
Under the VQIP, participants can experience expedited entry into the U.S for all foods included in an approved application. When a shipment arrives into the U.S that is associated with an approved VQIP application, it will be immediately release, unless additional examination and sampling are deemed necessary (situations where there is an obvious three to the public health). This translates into smooth supply chain processes for the VQIP participants which helps instill confidence in their end users and avoids situations where food may spoil.
The Voluntary Qualified Importer Program offers obvious benefits, but the process of joining the program may not seem as straightforward. Sirocco Consulting specializes in breaking down complicated food importing and FDA processes, sifting through the multitude of acronyms and legal terminology to uncover the benefits that can get your business’ product into a new market fast. If your company needs assistance in the importing or exporting of a food product, reach out to Sirocco Consulting and seize the benefits that come with 16 years of industry success.