Facilities that store food intended for consumption by humans or animals in the United States are required to register with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This includes distribution centers and public warehouses. Though a public warehouse may not consider itself a food facility, the warehouse may need to be registered if it stores food, beverages or dietary supplements.
Are there exemptions?
Transport vehicles with a primary function of carrying food are not required to register. The same goes for cross docks, which are facilities used for the sole purpose of transferring food from one vehicle to another.
Because retail food establishments are not required to register with FDA, distribution centers or warehouses that are co-located with retail food establishments are also exempt from registration requirements. However, if the center or warehouse is in a different physical location than the retail food establishment, it is still required to register. Another exemption is for facilities that import food to the U.S. that is solely intended for exportation or trans-shipment to a different country and will not be consumed in the United States. Of course, these imported foods are still subject to FDA’s prior notice requirements.
Who is responsible for registering the warehouse?
The responsibility to register a facility lies on the owner, operator, and agent-in-charge of the facility. The facility requires only one registration, so one of the three responsible individuals can fulfill the obligation for the other two. However, if no one in the responsible party registers the facility and the facility stores food without a registration, FDA may enforce action against all three. Keep in mind that while a facility only requires one registration, the registration must be renewed biennially.
If the management authority of a public warehouse is portioned out to one or several lessees and the owner of the entire warehouse registers the warehouse with FDA, all of the lessees are covered. If the entire warehouse is not registered with FDA, a lessee may register his individual portion of the warehouse as the agent-in-charge of his portion.
Even if a public warehouse is not currently storing food, it’s a good idea to register in preparation for the future. Storing food without registering with FDA is a prohibited act, so being unregistered could hinder a future opportunity if a potential client wishes to store food.
Contact Registrar Corp for more information about FDA food facility registration or to register a public warehouse with FDA.