What is actually needed to export products to the US now that FDA's newest food regulations are effective and why are they so significant?
Two experts, FSMA instructor Cornelius Hugo and labeling professional Elaine Meloan, discuss their work related to exporting products to the US. Each expert contributed to the discussion in a different way by providing breakthrough tips on how exporters should be prepared. Here, five things you need to know:
Update your product label’s nutrition facts panel
EM: FDA recently published final regulations for changes to the nutrition facts panel for foods being sold in the United States. While most companies have until July 26, 2018 to come into compliance, anyone wanting to sell in the US should start now to make the changes. Companies will need to gather information on the ingredients they are using in their foods in regards to the amounts and types of non-digestible carbohydrates and sugars. Under the new regulations, only the non-digestible carbohydrates that meet the new FDA definition of dietary fiber will be allowed to be declared as dietary fiber. Companies also need to declare the amount of added sugar in any foods they are selling in the US. Analytical methods cannot distinguish between non-digestible carbohydrates that do and do not meet FDA’s new definition and also cannot distinguish between naturally occurring and added sugars, companies will need to track this information by knowing the amounts of the nutrients in the ingredients they use. Since the suppliers of your ingredients may not be familiar with this new requirement for the US, it is important that you start asking for this new information.
Identify PCQI and complete FSPCA training
CH: Each facility that exports food products for sale and distribution in the US must develop and implement a Food Safety Plan (FSP). This plan must be developed or overseen by a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI).
- A PCQI is a person with appropriate knowledge and experience in the manufacturing, processing, packaging, and holding of clean and safe food products.
- Such knowledge and experience is obtained through training and job experience.
- The training can be obtained by taking the standardized course developed by the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA) in conjunction with the FDA.
- A PCQI must at least have the FSPCA training, or a combination of food safety training and on the job experience.
Mitigate allergen cross-contact risk (24 identified cross-contact prevention)
CH: Part 110 of the Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) was modified to Part 117. Plants which handle allergens need to assess their current allergen control program to assure it meets these regulatory requirements to prevent cross-contact under Part 117. This means 1) printing Part 117, 2) find where allergen cross-contact prevention is required, 3) evaluate whether the facility meets such requirements, and if not implement preventive measures.
Review existing FSVP programs
CH: Every foreign supplier of food products to the USA needs to communicate with their importer(s) and make sure they develop and implement a Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP). The importer must demonstrate that they are importing from approved foreign suppliers. That is, receiving documentation must correlate with approved foreign suppliers.
Make sure your FDA registration is current
CH: Without registering with the FDA the foreign supplier would be exporting food product illegally to the US. Once registered, the foreign supplier must re-register every 2 years, on even years, between October 1 and December 31.
The foreign supplier must also update their registration when a change occurs in regard to the information contained in the original registration, for example, a change in the physical address, telephone number, contact employee, products being exported to the USA, etc. Read more about our FDA registration recommendations here.