October 13, 2022

FDA’s Activities to Enhance the Safety of Imported Produce

The FDA recently released its Activities to Enhance the Safety of Imported Produce, which provides an overview of the work underway to advance the safety of produce imported into the U.S.

This overview follows the 2019 release of the Strategy for the Safety of Imported Food (Import Strategy), which described the agency’s comprehensive approach to enhancing the safety of food imported into the U.S.

The overview is organized according to the four goals introduced in the 2019 Import Strategy:

1. To help ensure that produce grown in other countries meets U.S. safety standards when offered for import by optimizing inspections, ensuring the most effective implementation of FSMA rules, leveraging the oversight efforts of foreign regulators, and facilitating training of produce suppliers in safety requirements.

2. To strengthen the FDA’s surveillance at the border to intercept unsafe produce using enhanced screening and entry review processes, optimized use of sampling and testing, strategic use of import alerts and import certifications, improved testing methods and tools, and maximum leveraging of the benefits of working with state partners and other regulatory bodies.

3. To facilitate the FDA’s rapid and effective response if imported produce is identified as unsafe, identified as a potential hazard, or causes foodborne illnesses. This goal encourages stakeholder engagement, research on risk mitigation, and the implementation of preventive and response activities, as well as enhancing the efficiency of recalls and appropriate sharing of information through a variety of domestic partnerships.

4. To improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the food import program by understanding the global inventory of produce farms and facilities and developing new metrics to measure success.

The success of FDA’s imported food safety efforts relies in large part on the safety of produce, since fresh fruit and vegetables represent a significant volume of imported food. Today, the U.S. imports roughly 32% of our fresh vegetables and 55% of our fresh fruit. This latest document, Activities to Enhance the Safety of Imported Produce, describes how the work to help ensure the safety of these commodities is a critical component of the New Era of Smarter Food Safety in building on the preventive standards established by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

The FDA has long recognized the need to ensure the safety of both imported and domestic produce to meet the agency’s public health mission. This overview is intended to help stakeholders better understand the many tools that are employed to ensure parity of oversight between domestic and foreign-grown produce, and ultimately to ensure safe produce is reaching U.S. consumers.

For more information, visit Activities to Enhance the Safety of Imported Produce.

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