The delay in US FDA process registration renewals due to a government shutdown is affecting inspections of imported canned foods, according to Ben England, founder/CEO, FDA Imports.
He said the shutdown will be felt by the trade , but it will not impact food safety.
Food recall coordinators will be working but some FDA districts are going more skeleton than others in the investigations branch, where most of the impact will be felt.
Renewal period opens October 1
“It's a busy time of year here in the US - especially with the government shutdown, which is affecting FDA's (Food & Drug Administration) ability to process registration renewals (the renewal period opens October 1, annually),” he said.
“The Device Facility User Fee site is not accepting fees until the government shutdown is over, so registration and renewal are currently unavailable.
“FDA compliance will still be working, but import inspections/samplings will slow down except for higher-risk, perishable shipments. For instance, the Southwest Import District will focus on imported fresh produce, but I would expect their inspections of imported canned foods to go down.”
Electronic holds on imported food
England added if FDA does not reduce its electronic screening rates during the shutdown, then it will continue issuing electronic holds on imported food that cannot be followed up on, causing unnecessary delays in release of cargo for distribution.
“These delays will have a real impact on imported food (and imported cosmetic and drug) trade, even though there will be little impact on food safety,” he said.
“FDA only physically inspects/samples less than 2% of all imported shipments. The higher-risk shipments and perishables will still be inspected/sampled, but if that rate went to 1.5%, who cares?
“Frankly, if it went up to 3.5%, who cares? The numbers are so low that they prove, yet again, that FDA is not protecting consumers from unsafe food – good food Manufacturers, Growers and Importers are protecting consumers, every day, and they do not shut down just because the government does.”