FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2017, KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian food and beverage exporters to the United States of America need to be aware that the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA or FDA) will start enforcing the Foreign Supplier Verification Programme (FSVP) rule from May 2017 onwards. This measure is part of the country's Food Safety and Modernization Act of 2011.
The FSVP rule, designed to ensure the safety and compliance of imported food from foreign suppliers, requires non-exempted importers to establish written procedures for evaluating the hazards and risks associated with each foreign supplier and imported food.
This new rule makes US-based food importers responsible in ensuring that their imports are produced in a manner that is consistent with the US food safety standards. More specifically, importers will be responsible for determining known or reasonably foreseeable hazards with each food.
These hazards can be physical or chemical including radiological and microbial in nature. Importers must evaluate the risk of each food, based on hazard analysis and the foreign supplier's performance. Based on this information, the importer is to approve the suppliers and establish the appropriate supplier verification activities. The importer is responsible for conducting supplier verification activities and for the corrective actions for any nonconformance of these activities. These procedures must be documented and be followed by the importer. Malaysian exporters must take note that the FSVP programs are specific to each food and supplier. The importer will determine which supplier verification activities are appropriate, based on the evaluation of the risk. One of these activities, the annual onsite audits of the supplier's facility, is generally required when there is a reasonable probability that exposure to the hazard will result in serious adverse health consequences, or death to humans or animals. Consequently, Malaysian food exporters to the US will likely need to undergo auditing process on their factories and record keeping procedures.
According to Chief Executive Officer of MATRADE, as US consumers demand variety, quality and convenience in the foods they consume, the market opportunity for processed food in the US remains large. "Malaysian food exporters to the US and those seeking to enter the market should take necessary steps to ensure that their products meet all safety and compliance requirements. By doing this, it will not only provide a great advantage to them but it signals Malaysian exporters' reliability in meeting global standards," Dr Mohd Shahreen Zainooreen Madros said.
Malaysia's exports of processed food to the USA reached USD155.4 million (RM639 million) during the period January-November 2016. Among the top products exported include cocoa & cocoa products, cereals, edible products, processed seafood and prepared fruits & vegetables.