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FDA Promoting International Capacity Building Plan

By Sara Zborovski, LLB 

Earlier this year, the FDA issued its international food safety capacity building plan (the “Plan”), as required by section 305 of the Food Safety Modernization Act (“FSMA”). Section 305 of the FSMA requires FDA to develop “a comprehensive plan to expand the technical, scientific, and regulatory food safety capacity of foreign governments and their respective food industries, from which foods are exported to the United States.”

FDA-capacity-building-planAs has been widely discussed, the FSMA changes the focus of the U.S. food safety regime from reaction to prevention. In part, the FSMA does this by giving greater powers to the FDA to oversee the food products that are exported to the U.S. each year. There is now an expectation that imported foods be held to the same standards as US-made foods to make them safer for U.S. consumers.

Traditionally, the primary tool used by FDA to monitor the safety of imported foods has been inspections at ports of entry. However, there is now a general recognition that the FDA must extend its reach beyond U.S. borders and deeper into the supply chain. As set out in the Plan, this will be accomplished (at least in part) through FDA coordination with its overseas regulatory counterparts, industry and other organizations.

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