The FDA FSMA rule on the Accredited Third-Party Certification is now final.
This rule, proposed in July 2013, establishes a voluntary program for the accreditation of third-party certification bodies, also known as auditors, to conduct food safety audits and issue certifications of foreign facilities and the foods for humans and animals they produce. These requirements will help ensure the competence and independence of the accreditation bodies and third-party certification bodies participating in the program.
Foreign entities may use certifications for two purposes:
- Certifications may be used by importers to establish eligibility for participation in the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP), which offers expedited review and entry of food.
- To prevent potentially harmful food from reaching U.S. consumers, the FDA can also require in specific circumstances that a food offered for import be accompanied by a certification from an accredited third-party certification body.