FDA Supplier Verification Rule Merits NCBFAA Nod, Caution

In a November 14, comment letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the its proposed Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) rule, National Customs Broker and Forwarders Association of America, Inc., (NCBFAA) NCBFAA President Darrell Sekin applauded the FDA for capturing the intent of the law by defining the importer as "the person who caused a food to be imported." The regulation is important to customs brokers due to the requirement that the "importer" of a food product is responsible for verifying that the foreign supplier meets food safety standards.

According to the FDA, "this person has a direct financial interest in the food and is most likely to have knowledge and control over the product's supply chain." This is the definition that NCBFAA has previously advocated.
While expressing support for the FDA's approach to defining the term "importer" for purposes of the FSVP, NCBFAA raised concerns relating to implementation of the proposed rule, such as: in situations where it is not clear who is the U.S. owner or consignee, who will be responsible for designating the identity of the FSVP importer and providing that party's DUNS number?

NCBFAA also urged the agency not to automatically designate the U.S. agent on the food facility registration as the U.S. agent for purposes of the FSVP. "The food facility agent originated under the BTA [Bioterrorist Act] and was intended for the very limited purpose of notification and communication between the FDA and the foreign food facility....Now, verification of the food supply chain may be added to the food facility agent's responsibilities," the NCBFAA President explained, "FDA must recognize the impact of this stacking liability. Many of the 300,000+ U.S. agents identified in foreign food facilities' registrations agreed to a much more limited role and will not be in a position to accept this drastically expanded scope of responsibility."...

This article has been excerpted and is available in its entirety at: http://www.ncbfaa.org/Scripts/4Disapi.dll/4DCGI/cms/review.html?Action=CMS_Document&DocID=15487&MenuKey=about.