Remote importer inspections to be conducted by FDA
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking measures to temporarily conduct remote importer inspections under FSVP due to COVID-19.
Due to the current COVID-19 public health emergency, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that most routine onsite inspections are temporarily impractical to conduct at this time.
To ensure the safety of the American food supply chain is upheld, the FDA has announced it will be looking to conduct inspections remotely until further notice. As such, it is now requesting that imports send records required under the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals (FSVP) rule electronically (or through other prompt means) to the agency to accommodate this shift.
Under the FSVP rule, imports are required to perform certain risk-based activities to verify their foreign supplier is producing the food in accordance with US food safety standards.
Previously, these inspections would have been conducted at an importer’s place of business. However, under the FSVP regulation, the FDA has the authority to make written requests for importers to provide records to the agency electronically or by another swift method.
The FDA will immediately begin conducting a limited number of remote inspections, prioritising the inspections of FSVP importers of food from foreign suppliers whose onsite food facility or farm inspections have been postponed due to COVID-19.
How FDA inspections will work
The agency is also planning to continue to conduct previously assigned routine and follow-up inspections remotely during this time. Importers subject to the remote inspections will be contacted by an FDA investigator who will explain the process for the remote inspection and make written requests for records.
However, the FDA may still choose to conduct an onsite FSVP inspection in urgent cases, such as in response to an foodborne illness outbreak.
In these rare instances, an FDA investigator will make arrangements to conduct the inspection, while practicing the social distancing recommendations provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The FDA is encouraging those that have questions about this temporary change in its inspection protocol to submit their questions online to [email protected].