FDA to raise bar for food imports

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WASHINGTON – The Food and Drug Administration is scrutinizing private labs hired by food importers, proposing new regs to ensure food safety.

The FDA issued a proposed rule April 26 covering the use of private sampling services and laboratories in connection with imported food.

New regs. The new regulations would require samples to be properly identified, collected and maintained; mandate that private laboratories use validated or recognized analytical methods; and direct private laboratories to submit the results directly to FDA.

The proposal would require importers to provide notice to FDA about the use of a sampling service or a private laboratory to sample and test food that is subject to an FDA enforcement action.

More food coming in. Imports of food are rising and last year reached more than 6 million shipments.

FDA estimates that importers hire more than 100 private laboratories to generate analytical data in support of claims that imported food products comply with U.S. laws.

Independent, accurate. The proposal would require independent sampling so FDA knows samples collected and tested by private laboratories are truly representative of a shipment lot and are collected properly.

The rule requires private laboratories to report analytical results directly to FDA to assure that the results are reported fairly.

The proposal provides a 90-day period for comments.

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