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FDA Deems Highly Concentrated Caffeine In Dietary Supplements Adulterated

A recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance document affirms that certain pure or highly-concentrated caffeine products marketed as dietary supplements are “adulterated” under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act, effectively prohibiting their sale in the U.S. market.

FDA determines that highly-concentrated powder or liquid caffeine supplements sold to consumers in bulk quantities meet the Act’s definition of “adulteration” in that they “[present] a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury under conditions of use recommended or suggested in labeling, or…under ordinary conditions of use.”

What Risks Do These Supplements Present?

Many of these supplements are intended to either be taken in very small quantities or diluted prior to consumption.  Some bear warning statements on their labeling urging to not consume more than the recommended serving.  Despite this, FDA maintains that simple measurement errors can result in consumption of toxic or lethal doses of caffeine.

For example, FDA explains that 1 teaspoon of pure or highly concentrated powdered caffeine product can contain approximately 3200 mg of caffeine, nearly two and a half times the amount of a toxic dose (1200 mg).  Additionally, safe serving sizes for these products are generally 1/16 of a teaspoon (200 mg) or less, but the smallest standard kitchen measuring spoon is typically 1/4 of a teaspoon (800 mg).  Given this example, an erroneous measure of just 1/8 of a teaspoon (400 mg) is twice the amount of a safe serving.

Does FDA Consider All Caffeine Supplements Adulterated?

FDA states that they do not expect caffeine supplements containing pre-measured or pre-diluted safe quantities of caffeine to be adulterated.  These products may contain caffeine in the form of tablets, capsules, packets, and significantly diluted bulk quantities.  Such products prevent the need for a consumer to precisely measure a safe quantity.  As a result, they “would not normally be expected to lead to toxic or life-threatening symptoms.”

Companies should ensure they are packaging and labeling their caffeine supplements as discussed above in order to avoid potential adulteration charges.  Adulteration charges may result in Warning Letters, Import Alerts, refusal at the U.S. border, and other public information that can damage a brand’s reputation.

Registrar Corp’s Regulatory Specialists are well-versed in FDA supplement regulations and can conduct a full review of your product’s labeling and ingredients for compliance.  In addition to a thorough report of recommended revisions, you will receive a print-ready, FDA-compliant label incorporating these changes.  For more information, call +1-757-224-0177 or chat with a Regulatory Advisor 24 hours a day at www.registrarcorp.com/livehelp.


Frequently Asked: FDA Labeling Requirements for “Added Sugars”

As part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels Final Rule, many foods, beverages, and dietary supplements are required to bear a declaration for “added sugars.”  The requirement is perhaps one of the most perplexing aspects of the rule, leaving many businesses with a lot of questions as they transition their label to meet FDA’s new regulations.

What is the Requirement?

Under the rule, labels for products containing 1 gram or more of “added sugars” per serving must indent “Includes ‘X’ g Added Sugars” beneath a declaration for “Total Sugars.”  Labels for products containing less than 1 gram of added sugars are not required to declare the values if they do not make any sweetener or sugar claims.  These labels may instead be required to display “Not a significant source of added sugars” at the bottom of the table of nutrient values.

The rule defines “added sugars” as “sugars that are added during food processing, or are packaged as such,” meaning they are packaged with the intention of being added to a food.  The definition includes sugars from syrups and honey as well as sugars from concentrated juices that exceed amounts typically expected from 100 percent fruit or vegetable juices of the same volume and type.  Labels for certain honey, maple syrup, and cranberry products are permitted to explain that these sugars are either naturally occurring or used to improve palatability.

FDA requires manufacturers to keep records of sugars added before and during processing as well as sugars packaged with the food as separate ingredients.  If the sugars are reduced through fermentation or caramelization, the manufacturer may keep records of scientific data that verify the declared amount is correct or petition an alternative means of compliance.  The manufacturer must justify the accuracy of all data.  FDA requires records to be kept for two years following the product’s introduction to the U.S. market.

Why is FDA Requiring the Added Sugars Declaration?

Certain public comments to the 1990 proposed rule that mandated nutrition labeling for most foods favored requiring a declaration for added sugars rather than total sugars.  Some comments proposed requiring both.  At the time, FDA determined such a requirement was not necessary, nor was it feasible to differentiate between added and naturally occurring sugars in most foods.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) report recommended a reduction of added sugar in the American diet, due to a strong correlation between low sugar intake and a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.  The DGAC report contributed to FDA’s reconsideration of its previous determination, and the Agency cited this data to rationalize the added sugars declaration in its 2016 final rule.

The added sugars declaration is just one requirement in two comprehensive new food labeling rules, which issue changes to daily values, serving sizes, and more. Businesses averaging $10,000,000 or more in annual food sales have less than two years (January 1, 2020) to comply.  Businesses averaging less than $10,000,000 in annual food sales have an additional year.

Updating your label to meet new requirements can be a lengthy process. We urge companies to transition now to ensure compliance before the deadline.  Registrar Corp can update your labeling to comply with FDA’s new label rules.  In addition to a comprehensive report explaining our recommended revisions, you will receive a print-ready, FDA-compliant label.  For more information, call +1-757-224-0177 or chat with a Regulatory Advisor 24/7 at www.registrarcorp.com/livehelp.

FDA Orders First Ever Mandatory Recall Under FSMA

On April 3rd, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered a mandatory recall of all food products that contain powdered kratom manufactured, processed, packed, or held by Triangle Pharmanaturals LLC. The Agency issued the order after several samples of kratom products manufactured by the Las Vegas based company tested positive for salmonella, a potentially dangerous pathogen known to cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. This is the first time FDA has ever issued a mandatory recall order. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. stated that the action was “based on the imminent health risk posed by the contamination of this product… and the refusal of this company to voluntarily act to protect its customers and issue a recall, despite our repeated requests and actions (FDA.gov).”

Section 206 of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 (FSMA) grants FDA the authority to order responsible parties to recall certain food articles if the Agency determines that there is a reasonable probability that a particular food product is adulterated or misbranded and that the use of or exposure to that food product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals. Despite this authority, FDA still relies on responsible parties to voluntarily recall products that are in violation of regulations. The Agency issued this mandatory order only after Triangle Pharmanaturals LLC failed to comply with earlier requests that the firm cease distribution and recall the product voluntarily.

Both voluntary and mandatory recalls can permanently damage a brand’s reputation. Companies that wish to reduce the risk of facing a recall may take various measures to help ensure that their products meet required regulatory standards and do not pose a threat to human or animal health. Registrar Corp offers a number of services specifically designed to make complying with FDA regulations easier for businesses. For example, Registrar Corp can dispatch a Food Safety Specialist to your facility to help you prepare for an FDA inspection by identifying potential food safety problems in the structure, processes, procedures and documentation used in your daily production. Furthermore, Registrar Corp can develop new food safety plans and programs for your facility or review your current systems and documentation. Businesses may also use Registrar Corp’s FDA Compliance Monitor to track suppliers, importers, and distributors for FDA warning letters, import alerts, and more so that they may become aware of and react to any FDA regulatory difficulties faced by current or potential commercial partners in their supply chain. For more information, call us at +1-757-224-0177 or chat with a Regulatory Advisor 24-hours-a-day at www.registrarcorp.com/livehelp.

Frequently Asked: FDA Regulations for Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplement companies often come to us unsure of how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates their products.  The requirements are not immediately clear, especially when label claims and terms such as “nutraceuticals” or “functional foods” (not recognized by FDA) can blur the distinction between supplement and drug.  In fact, FDA regulations for dietary supplements mirror those for food and beverages, but with some significant differences.  Below lists some of the key requirements supplement companies should follow to ensure FDA compliance.

FDA Registration

Facilities that manufacture, pack, or hold dietary supplements for U.S. consumption must register with FDA.  Facilities located outside of the United States must designate a U.S. Agent for FDA communications at the time of registration.

FDA requires supplement facilities to renew their registrations between October 1 and December 31 of each even-numbered year, regardless of when they initially registered.  For example, if a facility registers with FDA in September 2018, it will still need to renew its registration between October 1 and December 31, 2018.

Labeling Requirements

Like conventional foods and beverages, dietary supplements require nutrition labeling, but with different content and formatting. “Supplement Facts” charts identify only those nutrients that are present, as well as any additional “dietary ingredients” such as herbs, botanicals, and amino acids.  In 2016, FDA introduced new labeling requirements for supplements.  Among other aspects, the new rules require:

  • Vitamin D and potassium to be listed on the label
  • A declaration for “Added Sugars”
  • Revised units of measure for vitamins A, D, and E
  • A footnote on products intended for children aged 1-3 stating “Percent Daily Values are based on a 1,000 calorie diet.”

As of this publication, FDA has proposed a deadline of January 1, 2020 for dietary supplement businesses grossing ten million dollars or more in annual sales to comply with new label rules. Small businesses are provided an additional year.

Supplement labels and advertisements are not permitted to bear claims that suggest they “treat, diagnose, prevent, or cure disease.”  Such claims may result in FDA classifying them as drugs, which may require FDA approval and have stricter labeling requirements.  Products shipped with these claims risk being charged as “unapproved new drugs” and subsequently detained. FDA’s regulatory procedures manual does not permit an “unapproved drug” to be relabeled or reconditioned in port, forcing the shipper to re-export or destroy the product.

Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs)

As part of the Dietary Supplement CGMP Rule, FDA requires supplement manufacturers to follow specific procedures and record-keeping to ensure safe production.  Manufacturers must prepare and follow several process controls, including written master manufacturing records (MMRs) for each unique formulation and batch size of supplements.  In order to ensure each batch meets uniform specifications, FDA requires MMRs to outline aspects such as:

  • Identifying information for the supplement, including properties such as concentration or strength of each ingredient for each batch size
  • Specifications for points in the manufacturing process that require controls to ensure quality of the supplement
  • Specific actions needed to implement and verify these controls
  • Corrective actions for when specifications are not met

Prior Notice

Facilities exporting supplements to the U.S. must file prior notice of each shipment with FDA before it enters the country.  The submission timeline for prior notice is dependent upon the shipment’s method of transit.

For more information about FDA dietary supplement regulations, register for Registrar Corp’s free webinar (to take place on April 19) for a comprehensive overview on how to comply.  The webinar will conclude with a live question and answer session.

Don’t want to navigate the requirements on your own?  Registrar Corp makes FDA compliance quick and easy.  We can register your facility with FDA, serve as your U.S. Agent, review your supplement’s labeling and MMRs for compliance, and more.  Call us at +1-757-224-0177 or chat with a Regulatory Advisor 24/7 at www.registrarcorp.com/livehelp.

FDA Draft Guidance Explains Small Business Definition For Preventive Controls Rules

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently published a draft guidance on how to determine whether a business is a “small business” under the Preventive Controls for Human and Animal Food Rules.  The rules define a “small business” as having fewer than 500 “full-time equivalent employees.” Small businesses are subject to different compliance deadlines and, in some cases, different requirements than other businesses sizes. The recent guidance demonstrates that the definition of full-time equivalent employee may exclude many facilities from small business classification.

What is a Full-time Equivalent Employee?

As outlined by 21 CFR Part 117, the number of full-time equivalent employees for a given facility is determined by dividing the total number of hours worked in one year by all of the business’s staff (including those that do not handle food and those employed by affiliates and subsidiaries) by the number of hours one full-time employee would work in one year (i.e. 2,080).

For example, a facility may employ 150 full-time employees at 40 hours per week and 200 part-time employees at 30 hours per week for food manufacturing roles (a total of 624,000 hours in a year).  The facility may be a division of a legal entity that employs 150 full-time employees and an additional 250 part-time employees across multiple subsidiaries for various roles unrelated to food manufacture (an additional 702,000 hours in a year).  Though the facility only has 150 full-time employees, the legal entity it comprises actually has 637 full-time equivalent employees (1,326,000 hours divided by 2,080).

For this reason, some facilities may not realize that they are actually subject to requirements for large businesses under the Preventive Controls Rules.

How Does Business Size Affect Preventive Controls Requirements?

The rules provide small businesses a longer timeframe than their larger counterparts to develop written Food Safety Plans required by the Preventive Controls Rules; however, the compliance deadlines for most food facilities have passed, and small animal food businesses only have until September 17, 2018 to comply with preventive control requirements.

Certain farms that engage in activities requiring FDA registration (e.g. processing) may be exempt from requirements under the rule if they are considered a small business, but large farms that engage in these activities are required to have Food Safety Plans in place.

Additionally, “very small businesses” (defined by the rules as averaging less than $1,000,000 per year in sold and unsold products during the preceding three-year calendar period) are required to submit a “Qualified Facility Attestation” to FDA.  These facilities receive modified preventive controls requirements, including exemption from developing Food Safety Plans.  Facilities who submit an attestation must ensure that the average value per year of their sold and unsold products does not exceed $1,000,000, or they may be providing false statements to FDA.  Submitting false statements to a U.S. federal agency is a criminal offense.

It is wise for covered facilities to develop Food Safety Plans immediately.  FDA may look for a Food Safety Plan as part of a routine facility inspection, and U.S. importers may request their suppliers’ Food Safety Plan as part of a required supplier approval process.

Registrar Corp’s Food Safety Specialists are Preventive Controls Qualified Individuals (PCQIs) who can develop a Food Safety Plan for your facility or review your current plan for compliance.  For more information, call us at +1-757-224-0177 or chat with a Regulatory Advisor 24-hours-a-day at www.registrarcorp.com/livehelp.

FDA Releases Various Guidances for Food Labeling

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released numerous regulatory guidances to help the food and beverage industry comply with labeling rules.  Registrar Corp has compiled some important developments below.

  • FDA published a small entity compliance guide explaining requirements for aspects such as dual-column labeling and serving sizes under one of the label rules finalized in 2016. Many businesses must comply with new food labeling rules by January 1, 2020.
  • FDA released an updated guidance explaining requirements for honey labeling.
  • FDA released an updated list of example products to use as a reference for understanding product categories in the reference amounts customarily consumed table.

Of notable significance, FDA announced intention to exercise enforcement discretion on the use of a “†” symbol immediately following the “added sugar” percent daily value declaration on labels of pure honey, pure maple syrup, and certain cranberry products.

Manufacturers of pure honey and pure maple syrup may use the “†” symbol to reference a statement explaining that these sugars are naturally occurring and were not added during processing.  Meanwhile, certain cranberry products may bear a statement explaining that the sugars are used to improve the palatability of the food and “[do] not exceed the amount of total sugars in comparable product[s] with no added sugars.”

The guidance was issued in response to industry concern that classifying sugars in these foods as added sugars would imply that the products have been rendered unhealthy with additional sweeteners or “are less nutritious than competitive products that have similar amounts of total sugars and nutrients.”

FDA labeling requirements can be complicated.  If you do not want to navigate them on your own, Registrar Corp’s Regulatory Specialists can review your labeling and product ingredients for compliance with FDA regulations.  For more information about FDA labeling requirements, call us at +1-757-224-0177 or chat with a Regulatory Advisor 24/7 at www.registrarcorp.com/livehelp.

2017 in Review – U.S. FDA Food and Beverage Regulations

2017 brought a host of changes for food manufacturers and importers.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had a year of announcements, proposals, and deadlines for the food and beverage industry.  Perhaps most notable were the passing of two compliance dates for rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and a proposed extension of the compliance date for FDA’s new food label rules.  Take a look below at some of the regulatory highlights that occurred this year.

FDA Removed 28% of Food Facility Registrations from its Database

Between January 2016 and February 2017, FDA removed 57,720 food facility registrations from its database.  The drop in registrations was likely caused by facilities not properly registering before the December 2016 deadline and U.S. Agents of foreign facilities not confirming acceptance of this role with FDA.

Australia Received Systems Recognition with U.S. FDA

In April, FDA recognized the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as having a comparable Food Safety System to the United States.  Australia follows New Zealand and Canada as the third country to receive this recognition.  U.S. Importers may receive exemptions from certain requirements in their Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVPs) if their suppliers are in “good compliance standing” with a recognized country’s regulating authority.

As of this writing, the three recognized countries have not published lists of firms in good compliance standing.  As a result, suppliers in these countries are unable to benefit from the competitive advantage that more relaxed FSVP requirements for importers would grant them.

The FSVP Compliance Deadline for Most US Importers Passed

The first compliance deadline for the FSVP Rule passed on May 30, 2017.  Among other requirements, covered importers must monitor and document their foreign suppliers’ FDA compliance, evaluate the level of health risk their suppliers pose, and conduct appropriate verification activities relative to this evaluation.  In August, FDA began inspecting covered importers for their compliance with FSVP requirements.  The next FSVP compliance date is March 19, 2018.

Compliance Dates Passed under the Preventive Controls Rules

Larger animal food and smaller human food businesses were required to develop and implement written Food Safety Plans by September 18, 2017.  These plans, overseen by a “Preventive Controls Qualified Individual” (PCQI), involve an analysis of reasonably known or foreseeable hazards and preventive controls for these hazards.  Smaller animal food businesses were required to begin implementing Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) by this deadline.

FDA Proposed Extension of Label Rule Compliance Dates

In September, FDA proposed an extension of the compliance deadline for new food labeling rules to January 1, 2020 for food manufacturers grossing $10 million or more in annual sales.  Smaller businesses would be provided an additional year.  Despite the proposed extension, we urge facilities to take steps toward compliance now. FDA issued this proposal after manufacturers expressed concerns over being able to comply with the initial deadline of July 2018.

FDA Proposed to Revoke Authorized Health Claim for Soy Protein

FDA issued a proposal to revoke an authorized health claim linking soy protein to a decreased risk of coronary heart disease.  Since the claim’s authorization in 1999, the “totality of scientific evidence” surrounding the relationship has yielded inconsistent findings.  This caused FDA to determine that it did not present the significant scientific agreement required of an authorized health claim.

FDA Issued Draft Guidance for Refusal of Inspection

In December, FDA issued a guidance outlining the Agency’s interpretation of the term “refusal of inspection.”  FDA states that, among other actions, failure to respond to an inspection request within 24 hours may constitute a refusal.  Food facilities that refuse inspection are placed under Import Alert, and their products are refused at the port of U.S. entry.

Registrar Corp remains committed to keeping the food industry informed on pressing regulatory matters and will continue to issue critical information in 2018.  The numerous requirements that came into effect this year and those approaching in 2018 may be overwhelming.  Registrar Corp can offer assistance.  Call us at +1-757-224-0177 or chat with a Regulatory Advisor 24/7 at www.registrarcorp.com/livehelp.

FDA Releases FY 2017 Inspectional Observations; Registrar Corp Reports on Common Food Safety Violations

5 Inspection Violations Commonly Found by FDAThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released its inspectional observation data for fiscal year (FY) 2017.  The data presents an overview of violations cited by FDA during routine food facility inspections from October 2016 through September 2017.  FDA consulting firm Registrar Corp compiled the most commonly cited food safety violations:

  • Lack of Effective Pest Exclusion/Screening – The facility does not take effective measures to protect food against contamination from pests or exclude pests from food production areas.
  • Sanitation Monitoring – The facility does not monitor sanitation conditions and practices frequently enough to conform to current good manufacturing practices (CGMPs).  Some factors that should be monitored include the safety of water coming into contact with food and food contact surfaces, the condition and cleanliness of food contact surfaces, and the measures used to prevent cross-contamination from unsanitary objects.
  • Plant Cleanliness – The facility fails to maintain cleanliness of the premises, or the facility is not constructed in a way that allows for proper sanitation or maintenance of floors, walls, and ceilings.
  • HACCP Plan Implementation – A facility manufacturing seafood or juice fails to implement procedures in its HACCP plan. These may include monitoring critical control points of food hazards, verifying the adequacy of the plan’s hazard control, or maintaining records as required by 21 CFR Part 123
  • Reasonable Precautions – The facility does not take precautions to prevent production procedures from contaminating food.  Reasonable precautions may include monitoring food processing time and temperature or monitoring manufacturing operations, such as freezing or heat processing.

The violations listed above are nearly identical to the most common violations cited in FY 2016 and FY 2015.  Food facilities should use this pattern to anticipate what areas in their daily operations may require further review before a FDA inspection.

It is worth mentioning that the 2017 list is the first to include violations related to FDA’s Preventive Controls Rules and Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) Rule, both of which had compliance deadlines in 2017.  Most food facilities are now required to have implemented HARPC food safety plans, and many importers are required to have FSVPs. Despite the first FSVP compliance deadline passing as recently as May 2017, failure to develop an FSVP was cited 108 times.  With the next FSVP deadline landing in March 2018, it is probable that FSMA violations may make their way to the top next year.

Inspection violations can result in Warning Letters, placement on Import Alert, suspension of facility registration, and other enforcement actions.  With proper preparation and guidance, these food safety issues can be corrected before FDA visits a facility.  Registrar Corp’s Food Safety Specialists can conduct a mock FDA inspection of your facility to identify potential food safety violations.  Our expert, onsite assistance can guide your facility with knowledge and tools to have a successful FDA inspection.  For more information, visit our site or chat with a Regulatory Advisor 24 hours a day at www.registrarcorp.com/livehelp.

This article was originally published as a press release.

FDA Requires Responses to Inspection Requests within 24 Hours, According to New Inspection Refusal Guidance

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a draft guidance that outlines their interpretation of the term “refusal of inspection.”  According to the guidance, FDA requires food facilities receiving notice of FDA inspection to confirm acceptance of the inspection within 24 hours. Failure to confirm within 24 hours may be deemed refusal of inspection, resulting in refusal of that facility’s future food shipments to the US.  Further, any attempts to limit or condition the inspection in any way likewise may be deemed a refusal of inspection, with the same harsh consequences.

What are the Consequences of Being Deemed a Refusal?

Facilities that refuse inspection are placed under Import Alert 99-32, and their food articles face refusal of admission at the port of U.S. entry.  In addition, their FDA registration may be suspended.

How Can I Prevent Being Deemed a Refusal?

The recent guidance amplifies the importance of understanding FDA’s expectations for the inspection process and having a reliable U.S. Agent as a guide.  Before the inspection begins, the Agency may interpret actions such as not agreeing to an inspection start date or rescheduling an inspection without reasonable explanation as attempts to circumvent the inspection.  Upon receiving a notice of inspection, a facility should work with their U.S. Agent to respond to FDA promptly and cooperatively.

During the inspection, a facility should maintain this cooperation with the FDA inspector.  Any attempts to interfere with or delay the inspection, such as limiting the inspector’s observations to certain areas of the plant or omitting requested documents, may constitute refusal.  Facilities should ensure that they accommodate the inspector’s requests and refrain from any actions that might limit a full observation of daily operations.

Our Facility Is Under Import Alert for Inspection Refusal.  What Can We Do?

To seek removal from the Import Alert 99-32 Red List, a facility must petition for inspection by FDA.  The guidance states that for some facilities, scheduling an inspection after an initial refusal may take at least one year.  Given this, full cooperation with FDA inspection is imperative to avoid loss of profits from an avoidable Import Alert.

Proper guidance from a third party experienced in FDA regulations can prove invaluable to a facility facing inspection.  Registrar Corp’s trained Regulatory Specialists are knowledgeable in FDA inspections and can conduct a Mock FDA Inspection of your facility.  Our experts can help identify potential food safety issues to fix before an inspection and educate facility staff on FDA expectations. For more information, call us at +1-757-224-0177 or chat with a Regulatory Advisor 24 hours a day at www.registrarcorp.com/livehelp.

Registrar Corp can act as your U.S. Agent to help you promptly schedule inspection with FDA, as well as provide your facility a host of additional benefits, including biennial registration, detention assistance, and compliance monitoring.


Why Food Facilities Should Get Off FDA Import Alert Before March 2018

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires most U.S. importers of food and beverages to develop and implement Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVPs). Covered importers must document their foreign suppliers’ FDA compliance, including whether or not each supplier is subject to a FDA Import Alert.

Under FSVP, importers must only import from suppliers whom they have evaluated and approved. FDA requires verification activities outlined in a FSVP to be decided by the level of supplier risk determined from this evaluation.  An Import Alert increases the probability that the importer must conduct more comprehensive verification activities to ensure the safety of a supplier’s products, such as onsite audits or sampling.  In some cases, the importer may be unable to approve a supplier because they are under Import Alert.  For these reasons, suppliers not on alert receive a competitive advantage in the market.

The next FSVP deadline is March 19, 2018, which applies to U.S. importers whose suppliers have fewer than 500 full-time equivalent employees. Before the deadline, food facilities outside of the United States should ensure that they are not subject to an Import Alert that may cause their U.S. Importers to not approve them.

What is an Import Alert?

Products on Import Alert face detention without physical examination (DWPE) at the port of entry. FDA issues Import Alerts when patterns of non-compliance from a specific business or country give the Agency reasonable belief that future shipments may violate regulations.

For example, FDA sampled 16 shipments of dried peppers from ten different shippers in Mexico in 1988.  FDA found excessive mold in 14 of those samples.  This led to the publication of Import Alert #24-11, which subjects all shipments of dried peppers from Mexico to DWPE unless the shipper’s product is exempt.  This is just one instance of over 240 active FDA Import Alerts.

How do I know if my products are on Import Alert?

FDA does not directly notify a facility that it is under Import Alert.  Instead, the Agency maintains a public database of Import Alerts with records of which products from which facilities are subject to DWPE. However, determining if products are on Import Alert may require time-consuming searches through numerous alerts for any facilities a given business might have a stake in.  Registrar Corp’s FDA Compliance Monitor is a simple alternative that allows businesses to track all of their facilities at once and receive a detailed report of any alerts their products may be under.

My Products are on Import Alert.  How do I get them removed?

A business may petition FDA for exclusion from an Import Alert by demonstrating evidence of compliance that overcomes the apparent violation detailed in the Alert. A common misconception is that a facility is excluded from Import Alert after five consecutive non-violative shipments are released by FDA.  This is only a small component of a larger process involving other, potentially extensive requirements.

The specific requirements for a petition vary, and are outlined in the guidance issued with an individual Import Alert.  These may include documentation of revised food safety plans, revised labeling or formulations, changes implemented in the manufacturing process, or documentation of compliance with a government agency regulating food in the facility’s home country.

Many businesses can be intimidated by the extensive requirements of an Import Alert petition.  These businesses may remain under Import Alert, facing DWPE and difficulties satisfying the requirements of an importer’s FSVP, even if they are not in violation of the specified regulations at the time.  Despite a solution to the problem, some businesses might have no idea how to begin a petition.

Registrar Corp’s Regulatory Specialists are experienced in developing Import Alert petitions and can help you draft and compile the necessary documentation for Import Alert exclusion.  Additionally, importers and suppliers can try Registrar Corp’s FDA Compliance Monitor free for 60 days to see which of their facilities may be on alert.  For assistance, call us at +1-757-224-0177 or speak with a Regulatory Advisor 24 hours a day at www.registrarcorp.com/livehelp.