USA – The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Costco Wholesale Corporation as the first participant in the FDA’s Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) under the FDA Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA). 

VQIP is a voluntary fee-based program that provides importers, who achieve and maintain control over the safety and security of their supply chains, expedited review and importation of human and animal foods into the US.

FDA said that Costco has successfully demonstrated management of the safety and security of its supply chain.

According to the agency, this allows the company to utilize VQIP to import certain food products into the US with greater speed and predictability, avoiding unexpected delays at the point of import entry.

To participate in VQIP, food importers must meet certain eligibility requirements, including ensuring that the facilities of their foreign suppliers are certified through the FDA’s Accredited Third-party Certification Program.

FDA says that participating importers in the VQIP will be able to import their products to the US with greater efficiencies. The program is also said to benefit consumers from the importer’s robust management of the safety and security of their supply chains.

The program is also part of FSMA, an act that was established as a response to dramatic changes in the global food system and seeks to transform the nation’s food safety system by shifting the focus from responding to foodborne illness by implementing a prevention oriented system..

FDA has finalized seven major rules to implement FSMA designed to make clear specific actions that must be taken at each point in the global supply chain to prevent contamination for both human and animal food.

To further track the impact of the seven foundational rules of the FSMA, the regulator recently launched a Food Safety Dashboard designed measure the progress and inform refining of its implementation.

One of the metrics that the FDA is beginning to track on the dashboard is how quickly a firm issues public notification for a Class 1 recall – the most urgent type of recall for human and animal food.