Malaysian food exporters to the United States will likely need to undergo auditing process on their factories and record keeping procedures when the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) starts enforcing the Foreign Supplier Verification Programme (FSVP) rule from May 2017 onwards.
The Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) in a statement today said the measure was part of the US Food Safety and Modernisation Act of 2011, designed to ensure the safety and compliance of imported food from foreign suppliers.
It requires non-exempted importers to establish written procedures for evaluating the hazards and risks associated with each foreign supplier and imported food.
Matrade Chief Executive Officer, Mohd Shahreen Zainooreen Madros said Malaysian food exporters to the US and those seeking to enter the market should take necessary steps to ensure that their products meet all safety and compliance requirements.
“By doing this, it will not only provide a great advantage to them but it signals Malaysian exporters’ reliability in meeting global standards,” he said.
He said as US consumers demanded variety, quality and convenience in the foods they consume, the market opportunity for processed food in that country remained large.
The FSVP rule makes US-based food importers responsible in ensuring that their imports are produced in a manner that is consistent with the US food safety standards.
More specifically, importers would be responsible for determining known or reasonably foreseeable hazards with each food, which can be physical or chemical including radiological and microbial in nature, Bernama reported.
“Importers must evaluate the risk of each food, based on hazard analysis and the foreign supplier’s performance.
“Based on this information, the importer is to approve the suppliers and establish the appropriate supplier verification activities (SVA),” Matrade said, adding that the importer was responsible for conducting SVA and for the corrective actions for any nonconformance of these activities.
These procedures must be documented and be followed by the importer.
Matrade said Malaysian exporters must take note that the FSVP programmes are specific to each food and supplier.
The importer would determine which SVA are appropriate, based on the evaluation of the risk.
“One of these activities, the annual onsite audits of the supplier’s facility, is generally required when there is a reasonable probability that exposure to the hazard will result in serious adverse health consequences, or death to humans or animals,” it said.
Malaysia’s exports of processed food to the US reached US$155.4 million(RM639 million) during the January-November 2016 period.
Among the top products exported include cocoa and cocoa products, cereals, edible products, processed seafood and prepared fruits and vegetables.