August 19, 2015

PMA responds to FDA’s proposed VQIP guidance for industry

Produce Marketing Association submitted written comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding their proposed Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) draft guidance for industry, a component of the Food Safety Modernization Act.

VQIP is a voluntary, fee-based program for the expedited review and importation of foods from importers who achieve and maintain a high level of control over the safety and security of their supply chain. The FSMA Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) and Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) for imported foods are particularly important to the fresh fruit and vegetable industry, as produce imports increasingly supplement the U.S. supply of horticultural crops and products. Nearly 50 percent of fresh fruit and 20 percent of vegetables are imported to the U.S.

“Clearly, global trade is essential to our industry’s health and to the health of consumers as we strive to fill half of our plates with fruits and vegetables, a recommendation of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” says PMA Vice President of Food Safety and Technology Jim Gorny. “These factors, coupled with the highly perishable nature of fresh produce, lead us to great expectations that preventive control assurances brought about by the FSVP rule and VQIP will speed border crossings, reduce border crossing bottlenecks and facilitate international trade. It’s equally important that we also provide consumers with assurances that produce entering the United States has been safely grown, packed, processed and held under standards that are comparable to produce grown and marketed domestically.”

PMA also pressed for clarification regarding the flat annual fee the FDA is proposing be paid by all VQIP participants.

“The industry needs clarification as to whether or not a firm would be refunded the estimated annual application fee of $16,400 posed by FDA if the firm’s application to participate in VQIP is denied,” Gorny said. “PMA recommends that FDA consider the use of a two tier application fee process for VQIP, beginning with a nominal fee that would cover the costs of FDA’s review of the firm’s application, followed by an enrollment fee if and only if the firm is approved for enrollment.”

Click here to read PMA’s comments.

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