Federal regulators this week announced a faster screening process for foods imported from countries with proven safety records.
The Voluntary Qualified Importer Program, which was mandated under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011, allows food importers to request that selected products receive expedited reviews from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
If approved, those foods would be examined or sampled by the FDA only when associated with a public health risk. When necessary, the samples would be taken at the importers’ preferred locations and the examination would be expedited during the laboratory or auditing process.
Importers would pay a fee to cover the FDA's costs of administering the program.
FDA officials said the program would benefit both importers and consumers by allowing authorities to prioritize imported foods that pose a greater risk.
The FDA is accepting public comments on its draft guidance through Aug. 19. The agency expects to begin accepting applications in 2018.