The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently finalized its guidance regarding the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) for food importers. Enacted under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), VQIP is a fee-based program that provides expedited entry for food from importers who have a high level of control over the safety and security of their supply chains. Participation is limited to food from foreign facilities that are certified by an accredited third-party auditor under FDA’s final rule on accreditation of third-party certification bodies. FDA will begin accepting applications for VQIP on January 1, 2018 and the program will start operating during fiscal year 2019 (October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019). The agency has not yet finalized the program fee.
Below we provide an overview of the VQIP requirements and benefits, as explained in FDA’s VQIP guidance, as well as next steps for implementation of the program. We summarize the benefits of VQIP, the eligibility criteria for participation, the application components, how VQIP applications will be reviewed, and VQIP inspections. The guidance also details the procedures FDA will follow in revoking or reinstating participation in VQIP, which are not summarized herein.
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