Firms updated about U.S. import requirements
San Jose, Costa Rica, November 18 2014 (IICA). Specialists from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) shared with representatives of the public, production, academic and export sectors information about the new requirements governing United States imports under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
The regulations proposed in the legislation, which establish new parameters to assure the quality and safety of many foodstuffs sold in the U.S., are in the process of being reviewed and approved, and are expected to come into effect toward the end of 2015.
Also presented at the meeting was a tool developed by IICA that will enable producers and exporters to identify the areas of their processes they will need to tweak to meet some of the FSMA standards.
The tool systematizes the requirements established in the regulations, which will help producers and firms gauge their level of compliance with the new standards by identifying the areas in which they need more technical assistance.
“It should be borne in mind that the countries’ agro-export sectors have made progress with respect to various safety requirements, some of which are based on guides and recommendations, that could become mandatory under some of the proposed regulations,” observed Alejandra Diaz, an IICA agricultural health and food safety specialist.
Organized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the FDA and the IICA Office in Costa Rica, with financing from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the meeting formed part of a series of workshops being held in Central America to discuss the regulations and inform firms of the proposed new regulations.
“Our objective is to help build capacity in the countries and disseminate the contents of this new regulatory framework, to enable businesses to better meet the challenges its poses and the opportunities it offers,” Díaz remarked.
She believed that the goal in introducing better controls was food quality and safety assurance. “The purpose of these changes is to safeguard public health; the main beneficiaries are consumers,” she added.