Food exporters told to comply with US policies

PHILIPPINE exporters who wish to market their food and beverage products in the United States must be completely aware and compliant of the requirements to avoid project rejects.

This was the advice of Benjamin L. England, Founder and CEO of FDA Imports.com Inc., a consulting firm combining the services of Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and US Department of Agriculture (Usda) during a recent seminar at the International Food Exhibition (Ifex).

England cited that FDA food and beverage regulations cover domestic and imported food safety, food adulteration (contamination), and food labeling (misbranding).

Food labels must bear all the required information in the correct formats and may not feature labeling claims or statements that are not permitted by FDA regulation, he said.

He also cautioned exporters against people who claim that food products or their label must be pre-approved by FDA. They might be trying to induce you to pay for services that are not required, he noted.

The FDA may likewise request for food samples to check if they are contaminated with pesticide chemical residues. Some products are also being required to have certification on safe color additives.

For products such as seafood and juice, compliance with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) is a must.

Further, some food items are subject to special and additional regulations, including low acid canned foods (LACF) and acidified foods (AF). This applies to solid food and beverages and food in sealed packages such as cans, pouches, glass bottles/jars and plastic bottles/jars.

He also pointed out that LACF and AF food manufacturers must register their facilities with FDA and file scheduled processes for FDA review prior to shipment to the US. However, FDA law exempts farms from registration but requires foreign mixed-type facilities, manufacturers, processors, packers, and storage facilities to register.

This is being implemented under the US Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) which requires food facilities to renew their registration every two years. Under this law, foreign food facilities must also appoint a US Agent when they register. The agent provides assistance to FDA and to the foreign facility by facilitating communications for inspections, records requests and concerns of FDA regarding imported goods.

Other provisions in the Act include requirements for Hazard Analysis & Risk Preventive Controls (HARPC); Standards for Produce Safety; Foreign Supplier Certification Program (FSVP); and Enhanced Bioterrorism Authority. (PR)

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