7 Ways US Regulatory Changes are Impacting Exporters

Countries exporting food to the US are required to comply with the same FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), and nutrition labeling requirements that US food makers do. Chances are, these regulations will create a chain reaction in one or more areas of your business. Even if your role within the facility does not change, the industry knowledge could be your key to career success and growth. Learn the top seven concerns exporters have about the impact of these new and revised US regulations.

Labels for Different Lands

Revising food labels based on the country of export has led to a lot of confusion recently due to the FDA's newly revised nutrition labeling requirements. Companies exporting products to the US are required to meet the same new labeling requirements that US manufacturers are. Other countries have different labeling requirements than the US. To guarantee an exporter is meeting the specific requirements, they may want to use a verification program to prevent their product from being denied entrance into the country.

"AIB offers services for US food labeling," said Donnell Scott, Food Labeling Professional, AIB International. "We can review labels for US labeling requirements, and create the nutritional information and ingredient statements in compliance with the newest US regulations for products being shipped into this country."

Expensive Technology

For most exporters, monitoring technology is generally overpriced and very expensive. Miguel Gonzalez, General Manager in Latin America for AIB International, said in his experience technology is necessary. An example Miguel has witnessed was an exporter used a small third-party freight company. A thorough investigation showed that the third-party turned off their refrigeration detector to reduce gasoline consumption, causing food safety issues.

Low Risk to Some, High Risk to Others

High-risk foods might go through increased inspection in the US. However, in some countries (e.g., Ireland), food of non-animal origin or other foods that are considered to be low-risk to human health might enter the country freely, without further import controls, according to Food and Feed Import Practices of Foreign Governments to Improve Food Safety, an FDA study. 

The FDA study also states countries have varying practices for sampling and inspecting imported goods usually based on product risk categorization, previous compliance history of the product, or if the product is a new product never imported into the country. What the FDA regulates might be a completely new practice for foreign exporters.

Stopped at the US border

Products that are incorrectly labeled are often stopped at the US border and may be placed on hold until corrections are made to the labels, said Elaine Meloan, Food Labeling Manager for AIB International. However, due to limited inspection resources at the border, it is possible that a mislabeled product could find its way to the US marketplace. At this point, the product could still be picked for misbranding and the responsible company would receive a public warning letter from FDA for the violations. 

Too Much Recordkeeping

Exportation documents are to be kept on file to include proof that the shipper has notified the carrier on refrigeration -- including any agreements between the two parties, procedures and records related to temperature controls by all parties, and training records by the carrier. Records could be electronic or paper copies and stored off site, but retrievable within 24 hours upon request by authorities and kept for at least 12 months. Anthony Raschke, General Manager, International Business at AIB International, said those who have not fully complied will be forced to invest more resources, including temperature monitoring devices, calibration, training, and detailed and accurate recordkeeping.

Additional Training for Transportation Personnel

Under the new sanitary transportation requirements, there are two significant changes for exporters, Stephanie Lopez, Vice President of Food Safety Services- Americas, AIB International said. The first change is for the food manufacturer who must define the sanitary transport requirements for their product in writing, including temperature control limits, and who must receive acknowledgement of these requirements from their carriers. The second significant change is for the carriers, who must ensure that their personnel, such as truck drivers, have been trained in food safety.

Deadlines Looming

With so much change in the exporting industry, tacking on deadlines presents a lot of anticipation about how aggressive FDA will be with non-compliance.

"My guess is that very few foreign suppliers will be ready when the new regulations say you must be," said Cornelius Hugo, Global Innovation Manager, AIB International. "It will take years to accomplish these changes. All I can say with a high degree of assurance is that a lot of foreign suppliers and their importers, will not be in compliance by the time FSMA's rules are enforced."

Now that you know the concerns, get help with your compliance questions without the added travel expenses.

Source: Food and Feed Import Practices of Foreign Governments to Improve Food Safety, FDA

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