FDA Details Voluntary Qualified Importer Program
Final Guidance with Q&A
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced final guidance for industry
for a voluntary, fee-based program to allow the expedited review and importation of foods into
the U.S. from importers with a proven track record of food safety and security.
According to FDA, the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) will benefit both
industry and consumers. Expedited entry provides importers an incentive to adopt a robust system of supply chain management and will allow FDA to focus its resources on examining and
sampling food imports that are more likely to present a potential risk to public health.
You must be a food importer to participate in VQIP. For the purposes of VQIP, the importer
is defined as the person that brings food, or causes food to be brought, from a foreign country
into the customs territory of the United States [Section 806(g) of the Federal Food, Drug, and
Cosmetics Act]. A VQIP importer can be located outside the United States. Persons who may
qualify as a VQIP importer include the manufacturer, owner, consignee and importer of record
of a food, provided that the importer can meet all the criteria for participation described in the
For specifics on eligibility, benefits, certification requirements and application steps, see
FDA’s official guidance document at www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/GuidanceRegulation/
GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/UCM448558.pdf#page= 5, complete with a ques-tion-and-answer section.
FDA is accepting both electronic and written comments regarding this guidance. Submit
electronic comments to www.regulations.gov. All comments should be identified with the
docket number listed in the notice of availability that publishes in
the Federal Register.
Despite the Risks, Many Brits Prefer
Research conducted by the UK Food Standards Agency
(FSA) last summer reveals that over 5 million citizens of
Great Britain are at risk for foodborne illness linked to
undercooked hamburgers. The survey results were released just as the UK was celebrating National Burger Day in
The study consisted of 26 participants via their mobile phones
when they were in restaurants, followed up by online discussion, and a survey of 2,708 re-
spondents using the FSA’s Consumer Panel. All strands of research engaged consumers from
England, Wales and Northern Ireland and took place from June 2015 through July 2015.
Notable findings include the following:
cent of them admit they would eat a hamburger that is not fully cooked.
• 25 percent admit that even though they don’t normally consume rare hamburgers, they
would still eat one if it were given to them.
• 32 percent of Brits incorrectly believe that eating a rare burger is the same as a rare steak
when it comes to foodborne illness risk.
Despite many Britons’ clear preference for undercooked burgers, the FSA still strongly encourages consumers to cook their meat fully and thoroughly—until steaming hot throughout,
there’s no pink meat in the middle and the juices run clear.
See the official research report at food.gov.uk.
FSIS Strategic Plan
Maps Out 5-Year
The U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) is planning to expand its testing in
a 5-year strategic plan made
public in November.
USDA’s Food Safety and
Inspection Service (FSIS)
Strategic Plan 2017–2021
intends to increase inspections, enforce tighter food
safety regulations and expand processes for evaluating imported food products.
Along with this plan come
three main goals: protect
public health by preventing
foodborne illness, modernize
inspection systems, policies
and the use of scientific approaches, and achieve operational excellence.
What exactly does the
• Toughen foodborne
pathogen reduction stan-
• Increase the number of
food businesses from
which FSIS collects sam-
• Better streamline the
testing process to reduce
• Update methods for esti-
mating foodborne illness-
es, which affects annual
According to FSIS,
“These updates will provide
greater transparency and
understanding regarding the
pathogens causing the ma-
jority of estimated illnesses,
facilitating a more detailed
assessment of agency prog-
ress.” (News continued on page 72)