SAFEGUARDS | Food NO. 111/15

On 05 June 2015 the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) published their draft guidance for industry of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP). This is a voluntary for fee based program that will allow the expedited review imported foods into the U.S. This program will be for importers that maintain a high level of food safety control and security of the supply chains.

VQIP [1]

A qualified importer is one that develops a quality assurance program for high level control over food safety and security of the supply chain, compliance to supplier verification of Foreign Supplier Verification Program or existing HACCP programs, facilities certified under US FDA’s accredited third party certification program or for raw produce a farm certification, a minimum of three year history importing into the U.S. without any issues of non-compliance, supplier and/or product non-compliance.

Applicants need to submit a yearly application, January 1st through May 31st, starting January 2018 to the US FDA. Benefits into the program will start October 1 following the acceptance into the program and go until September 30th of the following year. User fee is estimated as $16,400 USD.

US FDA can revoke the participation into this program for not meeting any of the eligibility requirements. This revocation will apply to all foods being imported under the VQIP.[2] US FDA will send a “notice of intent to revoke” and the importer has 30 days to make the corrections and respond to the US FDA with the corrections. Benefits will continue under the 30 days unless the US FDA believes there is a risk to public health. 

Restatement into the program as revocation is possible providing all corrective actions have been taken, documented and submitted to the US FDA.

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