The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently made two notable announcements regarding implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). First, FDA released a tool to assist companies with meeting supplier verification requirements under FSMA. A new section of the FDA’s Data Dashboard will help companies that perform supplier verification under FSMA by functioning as a “one stop shop” for identifying compliance and enforcement information related to specific suppliers. Second, FDA announced that the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) will not launch until the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 benefit year—i.e., October 1, 2019. VQIP is a voluntary, fee-based program that offers expedited review and entry of food into the United States.

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Photo of Joe Levitt Joe Levitt

Partner, Washington, DC

As the FDA’s former top food regulator, Joe Levitt brings a true insider’s knowledge to helping food industry clients deal effectively with the FDA. Whether influencing policy making or confronting a threatened compliance action, Joe’s 25 years of FDA experience puts clients in the best position to succeed.  In the private sector, Joe was on the ground floor when Congress developed the landmark FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Joe was also a leading voice for the food industry when the FDA developed regulations that all food companies must now follow. No one can help navigate the labyrinth of FDA’s FSMA regulations better than Joe and his team, and no one can better put your company in the driver’s seat when the FDA inspector knocks on your door for your first FSMA inspection.

Joe adeptly handles high visibility recalls and compliance actions. If a company finds itself in trouble with the FDA, they need someone with a deep insider’s understanding of what works and what doesn’t. Joe knows what the agency expects in the compliance arena, and the bar clients will be expected to meet. He can communicate his client’s position calmly and effectively to the FDA so the matter gets put behind them. His record of “helping startups and multinational companies… survive Food and Drug Administration investigations and avoid import bans that could shutter the companies,” led to Joe being named a Law360 Food & Beverage MVP (2016).

Joe is among the most decorated officials in FDA history, with his achievements being recognized by multiple U.S. presidents, cabinet secretaries, and FDA Commissioners. He maintains close working relationships with senior FDA officials and has served as the Board Chair of the FDA Alumni Association.

Photo of Maile Hermida Maile Hermida

Partner, Washington, DC

Maile Gradison Hermida represents all segments of the food industry and their trade associations. She has a keen understanding of the issues affecting the industry, from product development through production, distribution, and retail sale. Her core practice involves helping companies ensure they are in compliance with regulations from federal agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Maile also provides strategic advice on public policy issues, frequently involving agency rulemakings.

Maile has considerable experience with the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), having worked with numerous companies and trade associations on all aspects of the law since the day it was signed. She translates her in-depth knowledge of FSMA into practical solutions for companies working on implementation strategies. She also is a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI), as well as a Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance Lead Instructor for the PCQI training.

Additionally, Maile assists companies with matters involving regulatory enforcement. She helps clients navigate product recalls; government inspections; and other enforcement actions, such as Warning Letters and import detentions. Maile also advises clients on the development of label and advertising claims, as well as labeling requirements for foods and dietary supplements.

Maile is a frequent speaker and contributor to industry publications. Prior to joining Hogan Lovells, she served as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Charles F. Lettow of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Maile graduated with high honors from The George Washington University Law School, where she served as executive editor of The George Washington Law Review.

Photo of Elizabeth Fawell Elizabeth Fawell

Partner, Washington, DC

Elizabeth Fawell navigates the detailed, and often complex, regulatory issues confronting food companies and helps them understand both the rules and various risks involved so that they can make informed business decisions. Elizabeth works with every segment of the food industry, including manufacturers, distributors, retailers, restaurants, and food service operators; and their trade associations.  Elizabeth’s work on behalf of food industry clients with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) since its inception and her understanding of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems provides her with the experience and perspective needed as she counsels clients on how to comply with new requirements under the law. Elizabeth is a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI) and has completed the FSPCA PCQI training.

Elizabeth knows how laws, regulations, and guidance documents are developed, interpreted, and enforced. Her extensive knowledge enables clients to prevent and respond to enforcement actions such as Warning Letters, Import Alerts, and agency investigations. She helps clients in determining whether an RFR is necessary and whether a recall is warranted. If so, she helps manage the recall to minimize business impacts. Elizabeth provides real-time advice during factory inspections, helps clients prepare 483 responses, and drafts inspection manuals. She also assists clients in lawfully and creatively promoting their products; such as the development of labels, claims, and website and promotional campaigns. Elizabeth also supports clients in advertising disputes and with responses to FTC and Attorney General investigations.

Elizabeth helps clients stay informed of and ahead of public policy issues and develops strategies for effective advocacy before regulators. She also counsels clients on compliance with Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) safety standards, testing and certification requirements, and reporting obligations.

Elizabeth is a member of the Food and Dietary Supplements Committee of the Food and Drug Law Institute.

Erika Ward

Erika Ward counsels clients from all segments of the food and agriculture industry, as well as their trade associations. She helps clients navigate a wide range of complex federal and state regulatory matters, including labeling and advertising compliance, organic food production requirements, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) enforcement challenges, import and export issues, litigation support, and comment drafting on proposed regulations and agency guidance.

Outside of food law and policy, Erika is also dedicated to her pro bono practice. She has focused on death penalty work and also assisted with the representation of a client appearing before the Maryland Parole Commission.

During law school, Erika served as the Managing Editor of Law and Contemporary Problems. She also spent a summer with Duke Law’s Health Justice Clinic, advocating for the rights of clients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and cancer. Erika remains active in the Ohio State alumni community, serving as a mentor to current Ohio State students interning in Washington, D.C.