The customs broker industry is pleased that the Food and Drug Administration has defined importers as the party directly responsible for ordering food from overseas under its proposed Foreign Supplier Verification Program, the group's trade association said in comments filed earlier this month with the agency.
Under the rulemaking, importers will be responsible for verifying that a foreign supplier meets food safety standards.
Brokers should not be deemed importers because they do not have knowledge and control over the product's supply chain, the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America said.
The NCBFAA expressed concern about who would be designated the importer in situations where the U.S. owner or consignee is not clear and who is responsible for determining the importer's identity and providing it's DUNS (Dun & Bradstreet) number.
The NCBFAA also urged the agency not to automatically designate the U.S. agent on the food facility registration as the U.S. agent for purposes of the FSVP. "The food facility agent originated under the BTA [Bioterrorist Act] and was intended for the very limited purpose of notification and communication between the FDA and the foreign food facility. ... Now, verification of the food supply chain may be added to the food facility agent's responsibilities," the NCBFAA said. "FDA must recognize the impact of this stacking liability. Many of the 300,000+ U.S. agents identified in foreign food facilities' registrations agreed to a much more limited role and will not be in a position to accept this drastically expanded scope of responsibility."