Are Consumers Responsible for Driving FSMA’s FSVP?

Posted by Chelsey Davis on March 10, 2017 at 4:08 PM

Are Consumers Responsible for Driving FSMA’s FSVP?

In a roundabout way, yes. In the globalized food industry where complex supply chains are common, the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) seems to have been introduced at an appropriate time for Americans.

FSVP Staggered Implementation Begins in 2017

The first compliance date for human food imports subject to FSMA’s FSVP regulation is quickly approaching (May 27, 2017). This means importers must have verification in place for suppliers that are not subject to FDA’s Produce Safety or Preventive Controls rules, as well as large suppliers subject to the Preventive Controls rule.

Full implementation will be complete in July 2020, when importers must verify small business suppliers subject to the Produce Safety rule. Under the FSVP regulations, food importers will have to verify their suppliers’ compliance with food safety requirements that are at least equivalent to U.S. regulations on preventive controls, produce safety, adulteration and misbranding. FDA is still working out implementation dates for importers of animal food, said an agency spokesman.

Definition of a FSVP Importer:

The definition of the importer for purposes of this rule is the U.S. owner or consignee of an article of food that is being offered for import into the U.S.  If there is no U.S. owner or consignee of an article of food at the time of U.S. entry, the importer is the U.S. agent or representative of the foreign owner or consignee at the time of entry, as confirmed in a signed statement of consent to serve as the importer under this subpart.

A Comprehensive Guide to FSMA's FSVP Rule

These incoming ingredients from foreign suppliers may be evaluated due to the FSVP requirement, yet they are also, in some part, being driven by consumer demand for sustainable products, dietary limitations, and unique ingredients from various locations around the globe.

Consumers and Food Safety 

Consumer attitude toward food safety, nutrition, and  health were revealed in a survey commissioned by the International Food Information Council Foundation, and shared insights from Americans on important food safety, nutrition, and health-related topics. The research reveals what beliefs and behaviors consumers have regarding food safety.

About half of Americans (48%) feel that imported foods are less safe than foods produced in the United States. Most of those who feel that imported foods are less safe than domestically-produced foods (77%) attribute that to a lack of regulation. Sixty-one percent believe that imported foods are produced in less sanitary conditions, and sixty percent believe they could become contaminated or spoiled during travel to get to the U.S.

Americans are also interested in food and health related issues, with nearly all saying that they have given thought to the healthfulness of their diet, physical activity, and the safety of food. In an environment where daily media reports are constantly highlighting concerns about food safety, the consumer is left confused about what it true, what is safe, and what is not. More than half of Americans believe it is easier to figure out their income taxes than it is to figure out what they should and shouldn’t eat to be healthier.

Consumer Demand and Foreign Ingredients

A recent Nielsen survey supports this concept of a partially consumer-driven need for FSVP, at least from a sustainability standpoint, stating that two-thirds (66%) of those surveyed are willing to pay more for products using ingredients that are sustainable, natural/organic, and show a commitment to social value. Consumers wanting to feel good about purchasing sustainable products that preserve the eco-system and protect the environment are driving companies to react.

These consumers want food companies to keep supply chains growing while also using sustainable and ethical practices. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of the respondents (64%) in Nielsen’s new Global Health and Ingredient-Sentiment Survey said they follow a diet that limits or prohibits consumption of at least some foods or ingredients; Two-thirds of global consumers (68%) said they were willing to pay more for foods without undesirable ingredients. This leads manufacturers and suppliers with the task of getting creative when it comes to meeting these consumer demands. And this is where the global supply chains come into play.

Take jackfruit for example. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a rather large tree-borne fruit, capable of reaching sizes of more than 80 pounds, and grows on branches and trunks native to South and East Asia. Manufacturers are experimenting with this particular fruit because of the uncanny resemblance it has to meat if the fruit is unripe. And since the demand for meat substitutes is continuing to rise within the U.S., these manufacturers have to rely on foreign suppliers for this unique ingredient.

So as consumers continue to demand safe food (which should be a given), unique ingredients, and sustainable practices, U.S. manufacturers will need to continue to be creative when it comes to sourcing these ingredients while adhering to FSVP regulations.

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Tags: FSMA, Food Trends, Social Responsibility